The Packers game resulted in a loss, but the loss came when the Jags were competitive. I heard over and over again about how the Packers were short six starters in the game, but not once did they mention that the Jaguars were also sitting six starters. Daryl Smith, Clint Session, Dwight Lowery, Derek Cox, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Laurent Robinson all didn’t see the field on Sunday. So, despite the constant talk about how terrible the Packers passing offense is without their two top receiving targets, we didn’t get a chance to hear about how the Jags were moving the ball so effectively without Robinson and MJD.
Let’s connect the dots here. Aaron Rodgers was 22/35 for 186 yards and two touchdowns. This is attributed to the loss of his top receiving targets. Those numbers look pretty similar to what Gabbert produces weekly and his top targets are about as bad as the third stringers for the Pack. Gabbert gets a lot of crap for being inaccurate, but most of the balls on Sunday were about as well thrown as they could be. Further, it’s almost a week in, week out problem getting Jaguars receivers to hold onto the ball.
It’s safe to say that we now know why Gabbert was always checking down to Jones-Drew. When your receivers don’t catch you want to put the ball in the hands of the player that will almost certainly catch it.
When the Jags opened up their offense against the Packers (against a depleted secondary of course) the team looked like a pro football team. No longer did they look like the high school squad we’ve seen for the majority of the season. This team, and Gabbert, looked much better than below average. In fact, they looked above average. That all starts with the quarterback.
Gabbert went 27/49 (55%) for 303 yards and a score on Sunday. To give you an idea of how much better that was than during the rest of the season, Gabbert’s 303 yards is 33.4% of his total yardage through the first six games. If it wasn’t for his torn labrum he probably could have done the same last week. Gabbert’s 413 yards over the past two games is 34% of his total yardage on the season. His 57.3 completion percentage over those same two games is two points higher than his season average. With his better play over the last two weeks he has now moved to 28th in the league in completion percentage, tied with Andrew Luck and ahead of Josh Freeman, Mark Sanchez, and Brandon Weeden. It may not be the company he wants to keep, but at least he’s improving.
Right now, during the past couple games and the next few we may be witnessing the emergence of Gabbert as an above average quarterback. He is playing more decisively, delivering better strikes down field, and he is showing that he has the ability to turn his physical tools into production.
It’s too early to welcome him home each week with a parade, but it’s looking more and more like he’s on the right track.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims