Nov 4, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) before the game against the Detroit Lions at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Can Blaine Gabbert Be A Franchise Quarterback?


Whether you’re a fan of Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, or even Chad Henne, Jaguars fans are torn between quarterbacks not on the roster and expected starter Blaine Gabbert.  Gabbert has left a lot to be desired at quarterback since his rookie season when he was forced into action following the cutting of David Garrard and it has been a bumpy road since.  Last season he was benched in favor of Henne before being placed on injured reserve.

Gabbert is the big question in Jacksonville.  Do you draft pieces around him this offseason and hope he improves or do you scrap the entire project and start new with someone like Smith or Barkley?  Can anyone succeed with such a terrible offensive line?  To be honest, it takes a special quarterback to play behind a terrible offensive line.  Kurt Warner and Brett Favre could do it, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger can do it, but a lot of quarterbacks can’t.  But it really isn’t my opinion that matters, but 2012 head coach Mike Mularkey’s opinion did matter and he’s got a lot to say about Gabbert now:

I watched a lot of tape on Blaine prior to going there and interviewing for that job and there were some things that were going against him in his rookie year.  Basically, he wasn’t drafted to be the starter, he was a true junior coming out of the draft, which is hard to do, and really he was supposed to be sitting back and kind of being groomed. Kind of thrown into the fire.  Not a lot of help around him that rookie year.  We felt like, with the coaching and the system we were running, we felt like he got better.  He was getting better up to that injury.  Forecasting out whether he can be one of those franchise quarterbacks, I can’t do that.  The thing I saw was improvement.  That’s what I wanted from him.  He’s really never had a chance, you know, like you’d like to give the guy.

Personally, I’m not certain Gabbert can be “the guy.”  I think he should get another year to show that he can be the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be, but I don’t know that he has the skill or intangibles to be the face of the franchise and lead the Jaguars into the future.  I think he could develop into “the guy” and I would love it if he proved that during the 2013 season.  Like Mularkey, I’m not certain he has had a chance with a good supporting cast to show that he could be a franchise quarterback.  Like many quarterbacks, Gabbert came into a bad situation.

Mularkey takes the now-common defense of Gabbert revolving around having two more years of college experience if he hadn’t come out for the draft in 2011.  Gabbert could have developed his skills a little and come out more polished and be expected to be at about where he is now as a rookie, rather than being expected to be Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco right away.  He may not have been a top-10 selection either.

- Luke N. Sims

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