Last season, Gabbert was never expected to start. Gabbert wasn’t even expected to play. He was to wait in the wings, patiently watching David Garrard and Luke McCown play quarterback as he scribbled on a clipboard. As we all know, that all changed. Gabbert went from praising everything Garrard did to trying to fill in for the four year starter in week three.
He did all of this after a lockout-shortened offseason. During that offseason he was much like Sunshine in Remember The Titans. He came in, wasn’t exactly popular and had to make an impact. Unlike Sunshine, Gabbert didn’t make a positive one. But what if he had had that entire offseason to make an impression?
When a first round quarterback is waiting in the wings, it adds pressure to everyone. The starter wants to keep his job for as long as possible, the offensive line needs to prove it can be cohesive and flexible enough to match the young guy’s play style. The receivers need to start cementing a relationship that could make them the go-to guy for years to come. There are two ways you don’t want it to go: The Blaine Gabbert/David Garrard way and the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers way. One way, the new guy gets to sit behind a starter and learn for a period of time and enter a dysfunctional publica relations disaster with the competency, confidence, and skills to be an effective starter. The other, the new guy enters completely unprepared and muddles through a rookie and (probably) sophomore quagmire while trying his hardest not to sink.
Give me the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers dysfunction every time.
Being the leader of the team and making an impact during the offseason is often overlooked by those of us who pay attention to football. Sometimes the best players aren’t the leaders of the franchise. Sometimes the leaders are leaders in the locker room only. Sometimes just being with your teammates cements your spot with the team by making you an important off-the-field contributor. Gabbert didn’t have an opportunity to do any of these extra-curricular impacts or on-field contributions last offseason.
This season should be different though. This season, Gabbert has a chance to make an impact during the offseason. He can work harder, stay later, interact more, and be the leader the Jags need him to be. We won’t know until everyone starts telling us what’s going on in the locker room, but pretty soon I think we’ll see the young man from Mizzou leading the Jaguars up toward stardom.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims