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July 27, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) and quarterback Chad Henne (7) during the first afternoon of training camp practice at Florida Blue Health

Great Expectations: A Blaine Gabbert Tale

While the national media has continued to defame our chosen leader, news from local media outlets and the Jaguar press continues to be quite positive.  The most recent positive sound bite comes from offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, who said that “Blaine is the most improved player that I see out here on offense.”  Now, that’s all well and good, but Gabbert also had the most room to improve, given his calamitous rookie season.  So how good has he gotten relative to other starters around the league?


To determine that though, we need to look back at how bad he was relative to other starters around the league last year.  And backups.  That’s right.  Amongst all NFL QBs that threw at least 100 passes, Gabbert was second-worst in defense-adjusted value over average, Football Outsider’s metric for efficiency per play, corrected for defense.  46th/47th… Behind offensive stalwarts like Kerry Collins, Seneca Wallace, Vince Young, and Kellen Clemens, his new backup – Chad Henne, the guy who almost took his place – Tim Tebow, and fellow (5th round) rookie quarterback TJ Yates.


Can't knock the throwing motion too much - Tebow's results >> Gabbert's. Source: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE


But it’s time we move past that.  I don’t know exactly why Gabbert played so much more poorly than a 5th round quarterback, but he did and that’s that.  And while Yates was drafted in round 5 as a future game manager (Jeff Garcia-like?), Gabbert was drafted with all the tools and expectations to be a franchise quarterback, albeit a bit of a project for a top 10 pick.


Looking forward, we’ll need a keen eye to determine how Gabbert is progressing.  It’s been mentioned on this site plenty of times, but it’s worth restating once more.  Assessing Gabbert’s development will require more than looking at yards passed and touchdown:interception ratio; it will require an analysis of Gabbert’s footwork, throwing mechanics, consistency, and leadership, among other things.  He might not make all of these strides by the first week of the season, or even by the end of the season.  But we need to see “enough”… whatever enough actually is.


Gabbert’s success next year depends on his development in these areas during this offseason and into the season.  At least to local news reporters, Gabbert has shown plenty of improvement in these areas, particularly with regards to his footwork.  Football Outsiders had an interesting article on the development of QBs and when it mostly occurs.  Some positions, like wide receiver, have a specific time frame for development… usually you give a receiver at least three years to learn the nuances of the position and hone his mechanics (cough, Justin Blackmon fans).  But how long do you give a quarterback?   Aaron Rodgers fans reading this may argue for at least three years for quarterback development to be significant, but on the other hand, Cam Newton fans may say that quarterback development starts as soon as the season does.  According to Football Outsiders, the only time that a quarterback consistently develops is between year one and year two (about a 13% increase in DVOA).  After the second year, however, a quarterback’s development oscillates between -5.5%to 3.5% improvement/decrease, year after year, until they hit 30.


Blaine is on the modified Aaron Rodgers plan. Source: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE


My expectations for Gabbert’s development doesn’t exactly follow Football Outsiders’ pattern.  Gabbert’s first year was bad in part because of the extenuating circumstances surrounding the NFL collective bargaining agreement. He didn’t get an offseason, minicamp, or real training camp experience.   Because of this, I believe we should see a significant jump in year 2, but perhaps an even bigger jump in year three – after his second training camp and essentially his first full season as an NFL starter.


In my book, Blaine’s got at least two years to develop into the guy Jags nation expects him to be.  In the meantime, let’s teach our receivers how to catch, shall we?


– Zain Gowani


“Promise me you’ll always remember.  You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin

Happy Birthday Kristin Stevens.

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  • David

    Great post! I believe that his poor play last year, besides the obvious circumstances like the lack of an offseason program and just being cast into the fire, attributed to the fact that the team around him just wasn’t that good. I like the pieces added during the 2012 offseason. Instead of Jason Hill and Mike Thomas as the starting wide receivers, we now have Laurent Robinson and eventually Justin Blackmon. In the meantime, it looks as if Cecil Shorts is ready to take the next step. I’m also of firm belief that we will see the emergence of our two young bookend tackles, Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. Throw in the fact that our defense should do nothing but improve, and the team around Gabbert looks much better. Now many would argue that missing MJD will hurt his play. I tend to disagree. Sometimes you can’t be “the guy” until you officially become “the guy.” What I mean by that is, how can you expect someone to take the opportunity if the opportunity isn’t given. With MJD here, the offense could possibly stay the same. With him gone for now, it will give Blaine the opportunity to actually transform this offense into one that can actually pass the ball instead of hiding behind the running game. Does any

    • Zain Gowani

      If we stay healthy and get the development from the players you mentioned, we’ll be playoff contenders with even minimal improvement frm Blaine. The o-line really needs to step up though and take some strides this year – the tackles and the other guard (tackles, spitz, whoever).

      • Chipshot

        Did you say playoffs? Are you kidding me? The Jags just need to win some games. 8-8 would be a great season for this team.

        • Zain Gowani

          You can be a 9-7 playoff team in the afc if you get a little luck. 8-8 is in contention

          • Chipshot

            I agree that 9-7 could win the AFC South, I am thinking that 10-6 would definitely win this division. I’m not sure that the Jags can post that kind of a record but who knows, it will be fun to watch with all the young QB’s in this division.

  • Chipshot

    Ww will know more about Gabbert soon when the red “no hit” jersey is removed & he feels real pressure in a live game.

    • Zain Gowani

      Along with consistency, thats probably the bigges adjustment he can make.