Why Blaine Gabbert Could Bust

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Photo: Bleacher Report

During the NFL Draft, Gabbert was advertised as the “rocket arm” by ESPN in a series of draft-related commercials. It confused me so I went and watched more tape (YouTube). At times, he does have a rocket arm, but it’s not a rocket arm in the sense that Favre or Cutler or even Jamarcus Russell had a rocket arm. Gabbert has what I would call a situational rocket arm. On a deep throw, Gabbert can plant his feet, line his shoulder up with his target and drive the football as good as anyone in the NFL. I’m talking about the entire motion: whip-like release, high-velocity throw, and accuracy that would make Chad Pennington (most accurate QB ever) jealous. So, what’s wrong? It doesn’t happen all the time and that is the story of Blaine Gabbert: inconsistency.

I know that as a Jaguars fan, you hate to hear that word. Inconsistency. You are so used to it that it is expected. David Garrard shows flashes of brilliance, but its inconsistent. Byron Leftwich showed flashes of brilliance but it too was inconsistent. You know what, Todd Bouman looked pretty smooth and effective at times filling in, and while it was impressive to get off a tractor and play that well against Kansas City, the end result was that he too did not play consistent enough. The average Jaguar fan might even be numb to the idea of greatness at QB on this team.

As fans we know we can’t control the game, but we can sweat, pray, plead and whine all we want. While it does nothing, we still hope for that franchise QB to come along and save us from ourselves. The team deserves to win, after all, and we deserve to partake in the winning. We’re loyal.

This long spill brings me to my point. I fear that Jaguars fans will tire of Gabbert quickly. There is too much hope being placed upon him right now. Most fans believe that Gabbert will either sit the entire season or a large portion of the season this fall and then whenever he comes out of the tunnel in week 1 of 2012, he will be great. Sure, there will be a few boneheaded mistakes Joe Flacco-style, but he’ll be great right? I don’t believe so. Let’s put him under the microscope.

Invisible Defenders

The first word that came to my mind when I watched Gabbert film was loose. Gabbert plays very loose. The number one excuse for that is that he has a below-average offensive line and his escapability and awareness lead to him running….a lot. However, a disciplined quarterback would wait more than 1.5 seconds to run. There are times where Gabbert flees from no one. Watch the film, he will take off running when no one is chasing him and I’m not talking about running straight. I’m talking about sideways. He is fleeing imaginary defenders. The counter-argument is that he knows it’s the best way to win and is doing all he can to win.

Accuracy and Inconsistent Touch

Gabbert is praised for his accuracy by some and lamented by others. Bringing up a statistic would be useless. His WR’s are known to drop balls and his offensive line is known to allow defenders to chase him. You would have to grade plays where things worked out perfectly. You need to watch with your eyes and not with a stat sheet to understand Gabbert. He can place the perfect touch on the ball (this means that the ball is not too hard and not too soft). He throws hard on deep balls to get more velocity. He throws soft on short passes to make the ball easier to catch around the defenders, and then he misses easy throws, has bad timing on throws and forces coverage. Three defenders will normally outplay one receiver, even when you have a “rocket” arm. The worst part is the short passes. He gets inconsistent with his touch on these throws. Like I mentioned, he can be great and then he can be bad. He’s a project.

His accuracy varies from game-to-game and sometimes by the quarter. There are times when Gabbert places the ball perfectly in front of the receiver leading the receiver towards more yardage. However, there are also times when Gabbert has to try too hard and things go bad. This in particular reminds me of our own David Garrard when he first became the starter. Head Coach Jack Del Rio often mentioned that Garrard was trying to do too much and that could be why Gabbbert never blossomed in college. Colts big-wig front office personnel man Bill Polian made the comment before the draft that “you can’t teach accuracy”. It’s a concerning statement that applies heavily.


Gabbert has the sloppiest footwork of any quarterback in the entire draft. I know that Mallet takes a lot of heat for bad footwork but if you look closely, it’s not that bad. Mallet has correct but slow, terribly slow footwork. Gabbert has decently fast feet in the pocket, but he relies on his arm strength and doesn’t seem to place them correctly with regularity.

If you watch Peyton Manning and Sam Bradford, they have two things in common: Insane accuracy and the most disciplined footwork you can watch. Seriously, go watch them.


I’ve personally never sat down with Gabbert, but from the multiple interviews I’ve seen, Gabbert seems intellectual. He did well with Steve Mariucci of the NFL Network and he also seemed to hold his own in an interview with ESPN representative Jon Gruden. If you weren’t aware, both of these men are former head coaches in the NFL. They both liked his smarts. Gruden, however, will like anyone if you show them to him.


Gabbert seems to ace every intangible test possible. For that, I am grateful he will be on the Jaguars.


I can really only say what I see so many ways, I just want to warn everyone that their hopes might be getting too high. There is a 32% chance that Gabbert becomes great, not ALL-Time Great just proportionately great for 8-10 years. There is an even smaller chance that Gabbert becomes Peyton Manning, which many fans will eventually expect after having to watch Manning for so many years.

The worst part is that Gabbert is a project. Please wrap your head around that. He really is a project. He has sloppy footwork, he has almost no pocket presence, he tends to run from people who aren’t chasing him, and he seems to have trouble staying “dialed in”. By that I mean that Gabbert can’t stay in the zone. You watch a Manning or Roethlisber, Rivers, someone like that and they seem to be in the zone for most of the game and then in 4th quarter they get even better. Gabbert seems lost and loose most of the game and then in clutch situations he gets even better.

The biggest worry I have is that he has been affected with “David Carr Syndrome”. I just made that title up so if it confuses you, just bare with me. I simply mean that he is so used to being under pressure, that he can’t go through progressions as well as he should be able to. David Carr was sacked something like 74 times his rookie year and he was never the same. To this day, I believe that Carr could’ve been a great QB, but they ruined him with that offensive line. While Gabbert will inherit a much better line, I wonder if it’s too late. Can he ever be as disciplined as an All-Pro Quarterback needs to be? Will he learn to go through reads? Will he be the example of why spread-offense QB’s fail in the NFL? Will he be better than Garrard? It’s not guaranteed.

Welcome to the waiting game, folks.

Why Blaine Gabbert Shouldn’t Bust

At the end of the day, you can’t put a draft grade on a man’s heart and that is why Tom Brady made it. Only Gabbert knows what he can or can’t overcome, regardless of the uphill battle he faces.

If you would like to do some more reading on the Jaguars new quarterback, I did a research-typ “Draft Study” on him, you can read here.

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert Byron Leftwich Jaguars Todd Bouman

  • Kevin

    I applaud your efforts in writing this OpEd piece, but I really think it is pointless to speculate about whether or not Gabbert will be a successful quarterback until he has the chance to play. I realize we’re all bored due to the pending litigation and lockout, but I really think we need to be patient. Very patient. By the way, although you did a nice job for the most part, you really should proofread your pieces thoroughly before you post them.

    • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

      Speculation is pointless, I agree.

      The way I see it, there are two positions that require time: QB and DE. If Gabbert is bad after 3 years of starting, that is when I will first be concerned with his NFL play.

      Consider this nothing more than a reaction-type piece. I appreciate the feedback.

      • Armando Quiros

        “speculation” is the right wording. I was watching the Tom Brady Documentary on espn and they were talking about how he lacked the arm, the pocket precense, the experience, the composure. Coaches and so called analysts said he was a project…3 superbowl titles later, who’s left eating their asinine assumptions? All I’m saying, you cannot label a player a bust if you’ve never seen him play in a professional level. As a Jaguar fan and as an NFL fan I believe Gabbert will NOT be a bust. Was Brunell labeled a bust when he was playing back up for favre? I know, you’re all going to say that learning under favre is different than learning from Garrard, however, both are experienced quarterbacks who must’ve done something right to have a substantially long career. Gabbert will be no Payton Manning, but he will be our next Brunell…he’s fast, with quick feet, a great arm and ultra intelligent.

        • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

          correct sir, it is speculation.

          everything is speculation. I am simply presenting my speculation before the man takes the field.

          Let me ask you this: What makes you consider Gabbert to be so great? It’s not that I doubt it, it’s that I’m curious. I’ve watched a great deal of film and done far too much reading. If you are to debate me, I would love details. If not, thanks anyway.

          I would think learning under Garrard is more advantageous, Favre never seemed to enjoy teaching or anything resembling a “mentor” style role.

          Every analyst gets things wrong. In a re-draft, would Joey Harrington sniff the first round, no? Would DeSean Jackson still go in the second? No.

          Everyone gets it wrong. I just tried to make sense while hopefully being wrong.

          No one knew Peyton Manning would be that good, or else they would have traded 5 first round picks for him and the Colts would have gladly taken that offer.

          It’s inexact, unfortunately.

          thanks for the comment and I look forward to your detailing your answer if you have the time.

  • thehof

    The questions is not IF Blaine Gabbert will bust, but WHEN. As I detailed in my last BOOK IT article, the ladies of Jacksonville are already in love with him and despite seeming like a nice kid, he has made no Tebow-esque proclamations of abstention.

    Whether he develops into a good NFL quarterback or not remains to be seen. We will likely have not have the answer for several years.

  • Cobra

    As a Mizzou fan, I have to agree with some of your opinions on Gabbert’s shortcomings but I have to giggle to myself when I hear you Jags fans question if he’ll be the guy that you all need him to be. Basically, Blaine’s perceived problems can be boiled down to a lack of experience. He really needed to come back for his senior season. Even though he started his soph and junior seasons, he’s far from the player that he will be. Watching his whole career, we were treated to one of the physically most gifted qb’s anywhere and you’re right, he’s highly intelligent, with almost an idetic memory. You will be awed with the player that you have when he finishes his development and works out the bugs that only playing time can alleviate. He was breathtaking at times and then would show you that he was a kid just learning and developing. Stop crying the blues and beating yourselves up Jags fans, you’ll have a legendary quarterback in Gabbert when it’s all said and done. Wish the Chiefs had him!

    • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

      Thank you for your perspective, but I do wanna let you know that I am in now way crying any blues.

      This was just a longer version of my initial reaction, and there is probably a big chance I’m wrong. Any Jaguars site on the internet would tell you different.

      2 points for using giggle on a football website!

      • Edward

        I agree with both of you. Gabbert’s real weakness is just his lack of experience. He has tremendous upside and I expect him to be really good, but I think it’s going to take a while.

  • Austin

    “Could” is the key word here. Any player “could” bust. Will Gabbert and other players drafted bust? You simply don’t know right now. You can get clues from college and clues from the first OTAs all the way through training camp. I didn’t follow Gabbert in his college career, so I don’t know. But it looks like we won’t have any OTAs or any camps for a long time due to the current situation in the NFL. So you don’t know with any certainty. However, what the writer of this “article” neglects is the fact that Garrard will start for the whole season–if there is a season. He seems to think Garrard is gone and the coaches will just throw Gabbert out in the lion’s den, so to speak. That’s not the case. Gabbert will learn under the wings of a solid quarterback–yes, Garrard is solid and no one realizes it. Anyway, no one knows whether Gabbert will be a bust.

    • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

      Since I’m the writer of this “article”, I thought I’d comment on your comment.

      I would be delighted if Garrard played another two years. I feel he will have one year minimum. He is by far the best QB on the roster and I see Gabbert as the third best.

      your right. any of them could bust. could is very much the key word.

      “Could” was not a word used on accident. there is a large amount of attention going toward how Gabbert will succeed and while I hope he does, I wanted to provide another angle that gave balance to our readers.

      thanks for stopping by.

      Now that we’re done here, I think I’ll go put on my #9 jersey and maybe have a coke and some jack.

      • Austin

        People just have so much doubt about Jax. It’s just irritating. Just because there is no 50 year history of football here doesn’t mean we’re crap. I hear everyday of rumors of the team leaving and it just annoys the hell out of me. All I see down here are Colts’ fans and Steelers’ fans and Pats’ fans and every other teams’ fans. The permanent snow birds must convert to the black and teal.

        • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

          I feel ya man

          If you havent read the “about us” at the top yet, you may find this interesting.

          I grew up two hours from new orleans and became a Jags fan for the most erroneous of reasons, but I can tell you this. I became a fan at about 8 or 9 years old. I met my first Jags fan at 12 or 13, but only because I turned them into a Jags fan.

          The first actual fan I met was on the internet at 19. Rest assured that I am passionate about the team and that I would love for nothing more than Blaine Gabbert to become the next Joe Montana. If Gabbert does something as amazing as win Rookie of The Year, we can have a big post on here laughing about how bad of a judge of QB’s I am. My only argument at that point would be vince young (giggity).

          I seriously hope Gabbert is great because at the end of the day, I can analyze all I want and not be fulfilled, but when the men in teal march out from a tunnel, my whole world gets exciting. I love this team! It would make me or any other writer on this site sick to our stomachs if they were to move to LA.

          The worst part is that it is mindless regurgitation. No one checks their facts, they just beat a dead horse. They call it a sure thing that the Jags move. The only sure things is death and taxes.

          I’ve never been to Jacksonville, I hope I make it this year. It’s too bad people live in an NFL city and support a team that is miles away. There are only 32 cities that have the privilege of owning an NFL team and it saddens me to see them hold onto ties like that. If it’s anything like MS and LSU fans, then they are probably just cheering for the “hot” team.

          Thanks for the conversation. Conversations are the reason I write, as you can see with my lack of Jags interaction.

          damn this was long, haha my bad

  • Chris

    Funny comment baout the ladies loving Gabbert Im from the beach and Gabbert will be a bust…I live in Orlando now and you see a big culture difference….Jacksonville Beach is all about partying and girls…Things that Tebow didnt do…The people who run another Jags blog know nothing…Drafting a QB was the dumbest thing this team could do….Not only does Gabbert not have a contract well welcome to the nightlife…Back in the day I partied at former Jaguars houses..Drafting a QB with the potential lockout was plain stupid…Theyre predicting the season start begin Nov now…With 9 games….Whats funny if this is the case…I wonder if the beginning games fall off and I assume it is..Those were the games I gave the Jags a chance…We more than likely end up with teh second pick behind Buffalo..But with our schedule Im not surprised if we end up with top pick and Andrew Luck staring at us ina draft he would have been number 1 this year…

    As for a bust…yeah he will bust this team is quite terrible at developing players….I mean name one they either were good from the start or plain sucked.Matt Jones Sims Wlaker, Leftwich, harvey Groves..Or it took them three years to develop and then we cant afford them…

    Im still shocked all this “In Gene we Trust” hes the main scout when Shack was in town…people just drink the juice…Hes the problem…Get rid of Gene Smith and Del Rio and hire someone to do both will ignite a fan base…

    • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

      as you can see, I’m not as high on him as others

      as far as Gene’s scouting, it really doesn’t matter what he scouted if he didn’t pick

      the season starting in novemeber, that’s what they say. i don’t think we miss more than 5 games which would put it in october but I’m still thinking we play in september. it’ll be too public and pressure will cave someone.

      the funny thing is, if Gabbert develops Gene is hailed as a genious. if gabbert busts, he is looked upon as a dumbass

      Amazing how one pick decides three years of drafting.

      And like I told you, I like Alualu. So, we’ll just have to differ in opinion

  • Chris

    Um a top 10 pick should make an impact in a year regardless of position or hes a bust…Tyson Alualu in my eyes is average and way overdrafted…Thats an easy position to fill Jags shoulda went with prince a premier position with aguy that has faced other top receivers…Then The Dline…I think our draft was weak and a roll of the dice which means a roll of dice on teh organization in Jacksonville…People arent gonna stick around and buy tix to watch teh jags lose every game to develop a QB and more than likely comes in and doesnt do anything better cause teams are running the score up on us…


    • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

      google peyton mannings year 1 stats. he’s no bust.
      it blows my mind to this day when i read it

    • Dave

      So we should draft based on just stats since stats speak for everything a player does for the team. A weak pass defense draft but since you know better than all these scouts we should have drafted all secondary anyways. Maybe you remember that Reggie Nelson’s stats were actually pretty good his rookie year do you want him back too? We should have just drafted Tebow from his college career and than won the next 15 super bowls because he would have set up so many charities the NFL would have to let us play in it no matter our 0-16 record with tebow though.

    • kjones407

      I think your opinions are based off of illogic and they really don’t make any sense. As you are entitled to your opinion, I’ll leave it at that.

  • Pingback: Blaine Gabbert–Not A Project « Black and Teal | A Jacksonville Jaguars Blog

  • kjones407

    First, let me start by saying that I believe Gabbert will NOT be a bust. While I have no definitive details as to why I believe that, I will simply state my opinion. While his potential to become a All-Pro QB is low, with the potential I think he has, his chances become higher. Outside of arm strenght and accuracy, I think the bigger contributor to a quarterback being successful is football IQ. And if Blaine has nothing else, he has that. As the wonderlic test is not a football based test, scoring a 42 out of 50 is simply amazing. It is a real show to the mind this guy has and after the watching the interview with Mariucci, it’s obvious it translates over to the field. I totally agree with one of the above statements about lack of experience being his biggest issue in relation to the problems in his game that you have stated. With that being the case, I still think it is in his best interest to sit and learn behind Garrard. While the two opinions may oppose each other, I don’t think it will be in the best interest of the team to put him in the line of fire right out of the gate. While sitting behind Garrard he won’t get the in-game experience, it will give him more time with the coaches and the practice time should still be very beneficial to his development. Also, as stated in an above comment, I think he could turn into the next Brunell for us. I’m not sure how intelligent Mark was, but the physical comparisons are there. Blaine has mobility, good arm strenght and and fairly good accuracy, which is what I think made Brunell so good; and he had some amazing talent around him. Which is the last point I want to make about Gabbert. His success will also depend on the talent around him. I really hope Gene makes a concentrated effort to better the offense around, which I’m sure he will. The offensive line should be coming around by the time he takes over and hopefully, over the course of these next two drafts, Gene gets a chance to draft a WR the caliber of a Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson. MJD will probably be nearing the end of his run (no pun intended) by the time Gabbert enters his prime, so another star running back would also help. All in all, here’s to Blaine’s success.

    • http://blackandteal.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

      i agree with all of that, except the Brunell thing

      I don’t see the comparisons. I get that he is mobile and plays quarterback, I just feel the comparisons stop there. I could be wrong, I just think Gabbert has a quicker release and that they play differently.

      Gabbert is smart and that is the #1 factor, to me. I just don’t see the consistency in accuracy that I would have liked to.

      I hope you’re right about him. I just want to make sure I’ve made one point in particular: I am rooting for Gabbert, i just didn’t like him after I studied him. It’s not an opinion of worth but it is mine. Regardless, I am now a fan and I would rather be wrong and him be great rather than me be right.

      Thanks for your comment, you’re always a good read

      • kjones407

        I can’t really debate the Brunell comparisons to much, as I only have impressions of him playing. I take you it that you got to see Brunell play the duration of his career, so your opinion has more merit than mine. On Big Cat Country, they said the accaruate comparison was Phillip Rivers. As I’m not the best person to compare his game to another player, I’ll take their word for it.

        And thank you and the entire Black & Teal team for these wonderful articles that give me something to comment on. They’re very insightful and I’ll do my best to leave fair opinions that are worth replying to.

  • robert ethan

    Gabbert has the whole package. Moreso than any quarterback prospect I’ve seen in a decade of following the draft. He won’t get sidetracked by the nightlife. The kid is a rock from a character perspective. Not in that over the top Tebow sort of way, but just in a really solid well grounded everyday fashion. He has probably been the local hearthrob since he reached puberty. Or since the girls in his area reached puberty. It’s nothing new to Gabbert. He has been going with the same girl since he arrived at Mizzou, and she is as solid and down to earth as he is.

  • http://Gabbert Cobra

    Guys, I guess I neglected to make it clear that I hope that Blaine gets to observe Garrard for this year before getting thrust into the action. Contrary to popular belief, many things can be learned from observing a relatively skilled veteran operate when you’re new in the league. Gabbert benefited greatly by being able to watch Chase Daniel his first year, only getting limited snaps to take the “new” off. He will be a fine quarterback for years to come once his training wheels are off.

    • kjones407

      With that being said, I wonder how well Tom Brady would’ve done if he didn’t get to sit behind Drew Bledsoe for as long as he did. I still believe he would’ve turned out to be the player he is today, but one can only think that the time he spent learning from the sideline was more beneficial than detrimental to his career.

      • http://Gabbert Cobra

        Absolutely. My point exactly.