Ah, the Blaine Train! A comfortable ride for all of us Jaguars fans that swiftly carries us away from the outskirts of the NFL to heart of sports…
While Blaine Gabbert looked wicked good against the Saints by going 13/16 for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Who would have thought our baby Blaine would be tossing at over 80% completed? Will we see if there is a reality to come crashing down to this week.
The Ravens are a stout defense. “Defense Wins Championships” may as well be the mantra of the organization. Unlike the Jaguars, they have actually turned that statement into reality. So, can Blaine pass his way to victory against the Ravens? Possibly. Yet somehow I sense that 80% completion rate won’t be around this time.
In the first two preseason games, Gabbert has been limited in what kind of ball he is throwing. Most of the routes his receivers have been running are short and intermediate routes. While this could be the focus of the passing attack for the season, I figure that Bob Bratkowski will want to air it out a bit more at some point and the game against the Ravens may be the best time to do it.
Gabbert has a big arm and will have no trouble getting the ball deep, but we don’t know how well he can keep his eyes downfield and how well he and his receivers will be on the same page in the more vertical game. I don’t have too many qualms about throwing the ball deep with Gabbert, but I do think that it will make him look a bit more mortal than he did last week against the Saints.
Gabbert will also be playing more than one half or just a few drives this game. He won’t be thinking about performing well over a short period of time, but instead about winning a complete game. A three hour contest takes it out on a young guy and while he has experience playing through games before, it’ll be a little more difficult to keep the level of play as high as it was against the Saints for a longer period of time. Of course, I’ll gladly be proven wrong here.
Beating one team’s defense soundly is different from beating many teams’ defenses soundly. While the Saints are probably still hurting from the whooping that Team Gabbert put on them, I’m not certain the Ravens will just shut up and take Gabbert beating them. They’ve got a lot of pride, these Ravens.
I think we can see Blaine get some good throws in and be very effective within 15 yards. Expect Justin Blackmon to muscle through some defenders and make plays with the ball in his hands. Also expect a focus on Laurent Robinson as he was practically non-existant in the Saints game. If Colin Cloherty gets a few more shots from Gabbert then we may just see the brewing of a two tight end monster with Marcedes Lewis and a possible favorite target for Gabbert.
My projected stat-line: 17/24, 195 yards, one touchdown, one pick, no fumbles. If he can still throw at over 70% and get another touchdown then I think this will be a success for Blaine and company. I think Mike Mularkey and Co. will be pleased as well.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims