Blaine Gabbert took a step forward on the first drive against the New York Giants last week. He looked far more prepared and strong than he was at any point in his rookie season. His final stat line was more similar to us Jags fans, but he at least looked like he knew what he was doing.
With the Jags going to the Superdome this week, how can we expect the Jags’ signal caller to do? Will there be another superb 89 yard drive against a weak defense, or will he crack under the pressure of the ex-Gregg Williams blitz attack?
The Saints are a team in flux. The offense will still burn you every which way and the defense may still be powerful enough to make sure they can win some games when the defense does need to step up. Fortunately for Gabbert, it’s the preseason and he doesn’t need to get into a shootout opposite Drew Brees.
However, he does need to show that he can excel against a unit that has been quite intimidating over the past five or so seasons.
The ability to stand up to pressure has been shown, as has Gabbert’s ability to throw the ball with a bit more authority than his first year. Will this be a continuation on Friday? That’s the real question that everyone wants to know. I think that it’s possible – maybe even probable.
The Giants were the Super Bowl champs. The Saints are perennial contenders. Game two of the preseason will be another David vs Goliath matchup for Gabbert. He needs to keep cool and know that what matters is playing well, not trouncing the opposition. Football isn’t really a sport like golf or tennis where you play within yourself, but in this case Gabbert needs to keep that in mind.
With Justin Blackmon in for this game, the Jags should be able to spread the ball around a bit more. Laurent Robinson and Gabbert have a relationship being built, but look for Gabbert to try and fire some to Blackmon to see what he can do. Mike Thomas made a big move last week to show why the Jags should keep him around and will probably want to demonstrate his skills are still sharp. Everyone will be vying for a roster spot more competitively because as the preseason progresses, open jobs become more scarce.
With increased receiver play (at least anticipated) Gabbert should be able to do pretty well in the few drives he’ll be on the field for. I predict Gabbert will fall somewhere along the lines of 7 of 12 for 74 yards, no thrown touchdowns, and an interception against a ballhawking defense. Hopefully no fumbles for Gabbert as well.
Thoughts? We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims