In all seriousness, I don’t think this will happen. Actually, I don’t think it should happen. It isn’t beneficial to the Jaguars organization in any way, especially after nabbing Gabbert at 10 last year. The mere suggestion of the Jags picking a quarterback in this year’s NFL draft is ludicrous!
Or is it?
Around the interwebs as of late, there has been much (uninformed) discussion about who the Jaguars will take with the 7th pick. I’m not talking about the people who create mock drafts and feel the pressure of the web community bearing down on them so they predict the Jags scooping up Quinton Coples or some other “safe” pick.
I’m talking about the guys who sit on comment sections of articles or sit on NFL draft forums saying things like, “Blaine Gabbert was never very good during the season, might as well call a mulligan early.” You know the guy. He’s usually wearing a Cam Newton jersey at the bar of your local Buffalo Wild Wings.
But what if the Jaguars did do that? What if the Jags took their seventh pick and decided that pulling the trigger on a quarterback seemed logical? I’m not ruling out Gene Smith trading up to get a player he wants (we’ve all seen him do so in the past), what if that player is a quarterback?
I’m not going to argue in this post that the Jaguars will probably pick a quarterback. Nor will I argue that the Gene Smith is inclined to grab another quarterback after getting the man he wanted in 2011. Similarly, the coaching staff seems to be pretty well invested into making Blaine Gabbert “the man” for the time being.
But what if? Would it really be that bad? Would it be beneficial? Does it really matter?
There are really only two quarterbacks worth picking in the top 10 of this years draft: Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. I’m not saying that either of them will fall to Jaguars at seven (Lord knows Andrew Luck will for sure be gone by then), but what if the Jags do pick Griffin, or by some miracle nab Luck?
The common thought among the NFL right now is that having two starting caliber or “star” quarterbacks on the roster is a bad thing. There are numerous reasons for this:
- The two quarterbacks have to split reps with the first team.
- The two quarterbacks are constantly in competition with each other and won’t become comfortable with their position in the offense.
- The team will probably prefer one quarterback to the other.
- The offensive line will not be able to gel with the quarterback and his tendencies.
- It limits the amount of coaching each quarterback gets from the coaching staff.
But despite this, many teams used rotating quarterbacks as part of their formula for success in the early years of the league. Sure, none of those guys became Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, or Joe Namath, but the teams did have success. In fact, some college offenses employ the system currently (usually when they have somebody like Tim Tebow on the team though). The pros have definitely moved away from the system though. Is it really because it has no benefits?
What benefits could there be?
Believe it or not, but there are some pretty good benefits to having two starting caliber quarterbacks on the roster, and actually using them both.
- There is always a dependable quarterback ready to play if one of them goes down.
- If one quarterback is hurt, the offense is already partly used to the other quarterback.
- The different strengths of the quarterbacks give a greater variety to the play calling from the coach/coordinator and creates mismatches in a position that usually doesn’t have that opportunity (lefty vs righty, better deep ball vs more accurate short throws, etc).
- Some quarterbacks play better on the move and will excel against different defenses and defensive formations
Ok, the last etc. may be a bit shorter than the list of reasons to only play with one starting caliber QB on the roster, but I think there is an important point to be drawn from those lists: you can be competitive with multiple QBs who could be starting.
The Houston Texans should have won Superbowl XLVI. I’ll openly say it. There season was rolling, there offense was super-powered, and the defensive was dominant. Matt Schaub went down, Matt Leinart went down, they still made the playoffs behind the arm of rookie T.J. Yates. The system helped the young quarterback, but what if the Texans had had somebody else behind Schaub. We know head coach Gary Kubiak believed in Matt Leinart and was optimistic about Yates (he had to be to get through the season), but Matt Leinart had proven he wasn’t a starting caliber QB during his time down in Arizona.
What if the Texans, instead of the Titans, had Matt Hasselbeck on their roster?
I think things would have been different too.
Let’s think back a little further to the Joe Montana/Steve Young situation in San Francisco. Both quarterbacks were great. Phenomenal even. Obviously Young was being groomed to replace Montana at some point, the question was always when (the kid was ready well before he every got the starting spot). What did that give the Niners? Security knowing they had a starting caliber quarterback waiting in the wings, a guaranteed shot to make a Superbowl run following Montana’s departure, an offense that wouldn’t miss a beat no matter who was behind center. It’s a pretty extensive list (they were a pretty impressive offense after all).
Do you think Joe Montana upped his game every day in practice knowing the talent of the guy beneath him? Absolutely. Was it kind of uncomfortable for him? Probably. Would he trade his four Superbowl rings (two of which came after Steve Young joined the team) for a little bit of comfort during practice? I sincerely doubt it.
I could list numerous situations reflecting quarterbacks with stable backups that will ultimately succeed them, like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, but rather than do that I’d like to hypothesize about how the Jaguars’ situation would be different.
If the Jags did take a first round quarterback this year, they would have two premium talents on their hands. Blaine Gabbert has plenty of arm strength, a good mind, and a knowledge of the offensive cogs. QB #2 would have little knowledge of the offense over the offseason, but would probably have a high level of talent to compete with Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would wallow in depression if his team decided to draft a second quarterback. He strikes me more as the kind of guy who would always be battling with QB #2 for the top spot. As good as Luke McCown is in practice, he doesn’t really have a shot at dislodging Gabbert’s position as the starting quarterback. A new rookie quarterback with high talent does. QB #2 will be motivated to get the starting spot, especially knowing that the guy in front of him is either the same age or one year older at most. The product of this: Competition pushing each quarterback to get better.
And if Blaine Gabbert doesn’t pan out (I pray he does though!) there is a second option. If Gabbert turns out to be a late bloomer (like Alex Smith) then there is a viable option to use until then.
Sure, QB #2 wouldn’t be able to sack the opposing quarterback. Sure, QB #2 wouldn’t be able to add depth to our porous secondary.
But he may just light a fire under our offense, even without taking a snap.
– Luke N. Sims