The offseason program officially began Monday, as players began to attend conditioning workouts and classroom work early, due to having a new head coach. This is the most important time for second year quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, as Mike Mularkey and his staff begin to teach their system.
Jaguars writer Vito Stellino states in his article, “Jaguars get head start to offseason program, but coaches limited”, that coaches are able to teach and condition, yet on a limited basis. This includes supervising and coaching players such as Gabbert, who is allowed to throw to his receivers. This is to get the Jags up to speed with a new coach but not upset the balance of having a two week head start.
Mike Mularkey was the offensive coordinator last year for the Atlanta Falcons, who had one of the better passing attacks due to players such as Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones. It will be Mularkey’s task to improve the Jags bottom of the league passing attack, which seams beyond feasible, not only because of the new system and wide receiver draft class of this year, rather it would be hard to believe no improvement could be made to this team with a year of new assets on all fronts.
Gabbert’s success will also pivot based on who he’s throwing to next season. The Jags had a plethora of wide receivers last season that were spare parts from various other teams.
General manager Gene Smith will make the appropriate moves and the only locks that I can foresee are receivers, Mike Thomas, Laurent Robinson, Cecil Shorts and tight end Marcedes Lewis. Players Chastin West, Jarrett Dillard, Brian Robiskie, Taylor Price and Mike Sims-Walker may be cut to make room for younger talent in the draft or even Lee Evans, who is still in touch.
If Gabbert is to be successful, he may need a number one wide receiver, but what he really needs is a consistent core of receivers that get separation, to build chemistry and grow with. Analysts constantly state he is scared in the pocket, but I would be scared too, if every drop back play I see everyone covered as heavily as they were.
That being said, I expect Gabbert to improve his numbers to at least 3,000 receiving yards and around 20 touchdowns this coming season. Thoughts?
- Antonio Furgiuele