I don’t mean to breed any contention here. Nor am I saying that I really dislike Blaine Gabbert (even if I had Andy Dalton and Ricki Stanzi higher ranked before the 2011 draft…).
Gabbert will be the starting quarterback for the Jaguars heading into the 2012 season. Any talk of Chad Henne getting the starting role after the preseason is ridiculous. Jack Del Rio is no longer the head of this ship and there will be no last minute changes to who will be behind center.
But what about week eight?
The league owners voted on May 22nd to extend the trade deadline from week six to week eight of the season. Out of a 17 week season and only 16 games, the week eight deadline could prove devastating for one player in particular: Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert had much better numbers during the second half of the season last year. He increased his competion percentage from 44.6% in the first half of the season to 55.35% during the second half, seven of his twelve touchdowns were thrown in games 8-16, and his average yards per game increased from 113 to 163. Ok, so not much better, but better.
Even Blaine’s increased numbers during the second half of the season are not that impressive for a starting quarterback. It seems that most fans and analysts are hoping for Gabbert to have just an average quarterback season for the Jaguars to be competitive.
But what if average isn’t good enough for the new coaching staff? What if the Gabbert starts slowly again? What if Gabbert’s numbers don’t get much better than 55% completed passes? Should we expect the coaching staff to sit idly by as they see the season slipping away behind the hands of a quarterback they had no say in selecting.
It’s pretty obvious that Shahid Khan, the new owner of the Jaguars, wants early results. He is also not tied to GM Gene Smith. If the Jaguars aren’t winning, expect Smith’s seat to get very warm, very quickly. And as a result, Gabbert could be a potential trading possibility.
Before his stock would be ruined by two poor seasons starting, the coaches could bench Gabbert in favor of Henne in week seven or just before week eight, trade Gabbert for a fourth or fifth round pick (maybe a third to the Raiders), and set up the new GM (or Gene Smith if he’s still around) with another draft pick and an empty slate to start with.
Of course, I’m not saying this is a certain possibility – or even a possibility running through the heads of the Jaguars organization. But what if there really isn’t any development for Gabbert? The success of the Jaguars season has frequently been tied to Gabbert’s play. But the next season and what happens to Gabbert and Smith is rarely mentioned.
Perhaps this is too early a leap to doom and gloom. But maybe thinking like this is just what the Jaguars need to be more competitive. The franchise can’t afford to start another mediocre Leftwich type quarterback for half a decade if they wish to be competitive.
Of course, if Gabbert plays as we know he can then all this speculation will be for nothing.
- Luke N. Sims