June 12, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers Justin Blackmon (14) and Cecil Shorts III (84) and Chris Forcier (13) during a minicamp at Florida Blue Health

It's Not ALL About Gabbert...

It’s true. Everything you read about the Jaguars regarding the importance of Gabbert’s development is absolutely true. How are his mechanics, his footwork, his poise in the pocket? How is he progressing through his reads? Can he stand tall in the pocket and no longer close his eyes when he delivers the ball?

Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Jaguars’ 2012 training camp like I never have before. All of us here at B&T have been watching this team like a hawk in recent days. Most of the stories coming out of camp are about our quarterback. The local writers mostly refer to what the coaches say about Blaine. He’s been noted as, “the most improved player on offense.” The national writers with the big time jobs…let’s just say they don’t agree.

I was reading a recent post by Mr. Sims. It’s titled Talking About an Improved Blaine Gabbert. It’s a great read and you should definitely check it out. In the article, Mr. Sims raised a good point…what is exactly going on with everyone else? I’ve done some research since, gathering information here and there and this is my point of view.

Whether it’s fair or not, the quarterback is ultimately responsible for the success of an NFL offense. Certain things, however, have to happen for a quarterback to do his job. Playing the part of Captain Obvious I will now state that in order for a quarterback to be successful he must have both reliable targets and reliable protection. Besides wouldn’t you like to read an article that’s not centered completely around Blaine Gabbert?

Alfie Crow from Big Cat Country believes that Justin Blackmon should start out in the slot. I can see his logic, but didn’t we draft him to be a “X” or “Z” receiver? I’m all about easing someone into a new offense, giving him time to learn and whatnot. Blackmon will not play this Friday, and maybe when we play the Saints in our second preseason game let him see some time in the slot…just to get him on the field.

Anything after that would seem a bit too conservative. Doing any kind of job, ANY job, don’t you need to perform the task you were hired to do? I certainly hope we didn’t trade this high up for a #3 receiver. Overall, I don’t believe Blackmon’s skill set fits the needs of a slot receiver.

There’s a lot of guarded skepticism regarding Blackmon. Many fans and some of the coaching staff seem to believe that he is going to struggle early, and that’s certainly a possibility. Eventually you have to give the man a chance to play and that’s just how it is. You can’t not play someone because you’re afraid they aren’t going to be very good. You won’t know until he sets foot on the field.

Is anyone familiar with Laurent Robinson? He was a 2007 3rd round draft choice for the Atlanta Falcons who didn’t pan out. He did some time on the Rams active roster, where he was buried underneath…well no one really. He just wasn’t very good. He went into training camp last year with the Chargers and was cut only to be picked up by the Cowboys where he had his only credible NFL season playing alongside the likes of Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Tony Romo.

Cecil Shorts has once again become a training camp hero. He was taken in the 4th round of the same draft in which Gabbert was taken. He had a strong camp last year, but once the regular season started he ended his rookie campaign with two catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. Now Mr. Alfie Crow believes we should start Shorts over a highly touted pick such as Blackmon. I understand it especially takes wide receivers time to learn the NFL game, and I hope that Shorts continues his progress. I’d just feel better about drafting a slot guy in the 4th round rather than the first.

Mike Thomas has become the training camp scapegoat. Everyone is really mad at Mike Thomas and I can understand. But Thomas is one of the only receivers in which we really know what we have. Would I ever trust starting Thomas again? No. But as a 4th receiver and punt returner? Yes.

The biggest story regarding this year’s wide outs are the drops. How can the passing game improve if your targets are consistently dropping the ball? These receivers must HOLD ON TO THE BALL unless we’re trying to make ESPN’s Not Top 10.

It’s time for the fruition of the 2009 bookend tackles, Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. As soon  as we get ready to see 2009’s 1st and 2nd round picks lock down pass rushers, it seems one of them gets hurt and we’re forced to throw in Guy Whimper. But injuries are a part of the game and I wonder just how Cameron Bradfield is doing because judging by past seasons, he will be called into action at some point. Either way, all of our tackles better be ready and prepared. Facing a defense like the Texans twice a year will be difficult and we have to be able to protect our quarterback.

What about the interior of the line? Brad Meester is a staple along the offensive line. He’s old faithful. Another player along the line who doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion though is OG Uche Nwaneri. The 2007 5th round draft pick hasn’t been spectacular, but he’s definitely been solid. With Rackley and Spitz out, look for back up center to man the other guard position for now.

How much of MJD’s success can be attributed to the offensive line? How much of it is because of MJD? Running backs have been successful before without stellar line play. Quarterbacks, however, have not.

Regarding the O-Line, injuries have been the biggest story. The depth will be tested early, and we can only hope that the big guys have been getting stronger and conditioning and that our back ups stay ready. I will be keeping a close eye at how our second and third team linemen perform this Friday. They could be called in to play at any given moment in 2012.

In the end the success of the offense will come down to Gabbert in one way or another and that’s just how it is. That’s part of what it is to be an NFL quarterback. Just don’t forget that there are other factors at play.

-David R. Johns

 

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert Cameron Bradfield Cecil Shorts Dez Bryant Eben Britton Eugene Monroe Jacksonville Jaguars Jason Spitz Jason Witten John Estes Justin Blackmon Laurent Robinson Maurice Jones-drew Mike Thomas Miles Austin Tony Romo Uche Nwaneri Will Rackley

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