It’s Thursday, April 25th, 2013. Commissioner Roger Goodell steps up to the podium. (to a mixture of cheers and boos, as per usual) He pauses, for effect, and calmly says, “With the 1st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Matt Barkley; Quarterback, University of Southern California”. And with the abruptness that has become customary with the Jaguar organization making big changes, this city will be ushering in the Barkley era and closing the door on the Blaine Gabbert experiment.
Don’t believe me yet? You will.
Everyone (myself included) has tried to be 100% supportive of Blaine Gabbert and his development, or at least his anticipated development. You know all of the reasoning and justification that has been drilled in to the head’s of every Jaguar fan who questioned the pick after one of the many embarrassing performances over the last season and a half… Blaine is the youngest quarterback in the league, he didn’t get an offseason because of the lock out, the coaching change is a setback, there aren’t enough playmakers around him, etc etc. The decision makers at Everbank field are going to be Gabbert apologists and spin whatever they can to try and defend their selection, and frankly who can blame them? Gene Smith knows all too well that his job is directly tied to Blaine’s success or failure. All the excuses considered, NO ONE, not even the eternal optimists here in Jacksonville can say they have seen anything near the level of play from our current quarterback to warrant any faith in his future as an NFL player.
Here are the numbers. Unbiased, no excuses, no criticisms, just the numbers.
Out of 20 career games, sixteen (yes, 16!) games have produced less than 200 yards passing. that’s 80% of Blaine’s starts as a pro. Even more alarming, 5 of those 16, he threw for less than ONE HUNDRED YARDS. Please, let that sink in. in 25% of Gabbert’s starts, he couldn’t muster up enough passing yardage in the entire game to even cover the length of the football field one time. He has as many 2 Touchdown games as he does 2 Interception games (3). He finished last year as the 33rd rated passer in yards per game, yards per attempt, and completion percentage and Total QBR, worse than the likes of Curtis Painter and yes, even Tim Tebow (there, I said it!). The entire offseason was then devoted to helping our young quarterback… The Jaguars added 3 known quarterback gurus and the best wide receiver coach in the NFL to our coaching staff, a double-digit touchdown producing WR in Laurent Robinson, and the consensus #1 wide receiver in the NFL draft and centered our entire team around helping Blaine’s development. These efforts have spring-boarded BG11’s numbers in 2012 to… wait for it… 33rd out of 32 teams in yards per game, yards per attempt, 31st in completion percentage and 29th in total QBR.
The painfully, ridiculously obvious truth is that young or not, Blaine Gabbert is not a starting caliber NFL quarterback. To throw the age out of the argument, EIGHT quarterbacks drafted in either last year’s draft with Blaine Gabbert or this year’s draft after Blaine Gabbert have higher ratings than he does. Literally 25% of the league has a starting quarterback with as much our less experience than Blaine but with better results. None of these quarterbacks have MJD commanding 8 man fronts from opposing defenses, either.
Enter Matt Barkley. This 6 foot 2 inch, 230 pound, prototype pocket passer that came in to the college ranks with all of the hype and expectations that came along with being a 5 star high school recruit in today’s game. Barkley os one of the rare exceptions who not only met, but exceeded the once thought-to-be lofty goals set in front of him. He finished his Junior season with some absolutely gaudy stats. For example, he threw for more touchdowns and passing yards than the 2012 #1 pick Andrew Luck, as well as 3 less interceptions. This kid is the real deal. In drafting Matt Barkley, the Jaguars will finally have their QB of the future. Not a talented player who has a bad throwing motion like Leftwich, not a career back-up who can run but not throw like Garrard, and not a highly talented guy with all of the physical tools but none of the on-field production like Gabbert. Barkley is a physically gifted and polished signal caller who has developed in a pro style system at USC and by all accounts his skill set will easily transition to the NFL.
In the NFL today, if you don’t have a top 5-7 QB in the league, you have almost no chance of winning the Super Bowl. Jacksonville can’t let the bust that is Blaine Gabbert prevent them from pulling the trigger on a franchise-changing talent like Matt Barkley. Let’s not forget the Carolina panthers drafted quarterbacks in the 2nd and 6th round in 2009, and did not hesitate to take Cam Newton #1 overall just one year later.The Redskins gave up 3 first round picks for their franchise QB, and STILL drafted a QB in the 4th round. Every year that we hopelessly pretend that Blaine Gabbert will be successful is one more wasted year. The Jaguars organization can’t let one bad decision in drafting Blaine Gabbert cause another mistake in not drafting Matt Barkley. He will rival Mark Brunell as Jacksonville’s best signal caller in franchise history.
Here’s to the Jaguars’ future pro bowler, Matt Barkley!!
– Brad Barrell