I thought this horse was good and beat during the offseason, but four games in and it appears it needs to be rehashed. At the end of last season and into the offseason there were a number of glaring needs for the Jaguars’ 2011 first round pick:
- Footwork needed to improve
- Pocket presence needed to improve
- Keeping eyes downfield needed to improve
- Using legs to create opportunities needed to improve
So far there has been drastic improvement in Blaine Gabbert’s footwork, improvement in his pocket presence, occasionally he shows that he can keep his eyes downfield rather than immediately checking down or crumbling to phantom pressure, and so far he has been running a bit better than he was last year. We thought that his development was good enough. In the first game of the season he looked to fulfill all of those goals. Against the Vikings Gabbert kept his eyes downfield, he extended plays with his legs, he had good footwork, and he was able to feel the pocket much better than his rookie season. The last three games things have seemed to slide.
It’s alright, everyone falls off the wagon every so often.
But it’s only alright so long as we know that Gabbert has the ability to be the player he was in game one. It’s only alright if Gabbert can get back on the wagon. Right now it isn’t alright to call short plays and rely on flat from the backs to move the ball.
I understand wanting to get the ball to your playmaker, Maurice Jones-Drew, but it doesn’t make sense to not develop another playmaker in Gabbert. It’s a passing league, let’s take some shots.
We’re all tired of seeing Gabbert look like the quarterback we could have gotten in the 5th round (actually, T.J. Yates looked better than Gabbert last year). We’re all tired of seeing the classic dump-off, the classic handoff, the classic loss. If the Jaguars hope to be competitive and hope for Gabbert to develop, they need to get some plays going.
Rather than sending Greg Jones and MJD out in the flat, why don’t we let them block? Both backs are excellent blockers and the Cincinnati Bengals made it obvious that Gabbert could use more time. I know it’s a risk, but giving Gabbert more than three seconds to throw is crucial. Sure, it only leaves you with three wide receivers or two wide receivers and Marcedes Lewis out to run routes, but Lewis is a playmaker, Justin Blackmon is a physical receiver, and Laurent Robinson/Cecil Shorts have the speed or have demonstrated that they can make a big play when left alone. The receivers need to get open, but it’s better to give them the opportunity – and Gabbert the opportunity to hit them – than it is to continue to fail with the current system.
Most Jags fans agree that Gabbert needs to start throwing more and that the play calling needs to focus more on receivers getting the ball. I agree. With that will come mistakes. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski’s entire offense in Cincinnati centered on giving the quarterback the opportunity to make big plays or make big mistakes. Under head coach Mike Mularkey, that seems to be missing. I didn’t like the Bratkowski hiring purely because I didn’t think Gabbert was at the level to do what he was asking of him. After his steps in development (baby or otherwise) I think that he could benefit from being allowed to make some plays or make some mistakes.
We learn from mistakes after all.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims