Blaine Gabbert’s third season with the Jacksonville Jaguars is likely the one that will define the rest of his career. He’ll either do better and continue playing pro football (whether second string or otherwise) or he will show that teams should probably move past the former 10 overall pick and he may be more suited for bagging groceries. Step one is winning the starting job. The biggest part of winning the open quarterback competition that head coach Gus Bradley is instituting will be understanding offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch’s new offense.
For Gabbert, this is the third offense to learn in his career. He has learned the Dirk Koetter approach during his rookie season, the Mike Mularkey/Bob Bratkowski system in year two, and now a scheme from Fisch who was called up from the college ranks. Koetter was not in Jacksonville to groom a young quarterback. Mularkey and Bratkowski were brought in specifically for Gabbert. Fisch is here to make sure that the Jaguars can field an offense with whomever is under center, whether it’s Gabbert or not.
Fisch’s time in the college ranks should be helpful with Gabbert, especially since he is still a young quarterback in the NFL. But his ability to communicate effectively with young 20-somethings isn’t what is going to help Gabbert. What will help Gabbert will be the fact that at the end of the day if he can’t fulfill what Fisch needs from his offense, Fisch will move on to the next best man on the roster. Gabbert isn’t a sacred cow in Fisch’s offense.
So far, Gabbert seems up to the task of learning all there is to know about his third offense in three years. Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser had this to say about Gabbert:
Gabbert wasn’t close to perfect early in the week, but by Thursday, he looked comfortable in the offense and seemed to have one of his better practices. Throw after throw Thursday you could tell why this guy was a Top 10 pick. There is special ability there. Again, it’s one practice, but there’s a reason Gabbert is being given a chance to compete. He’s a first-round talent, and it would be ideal for this franchise if he develops into a solid starter.
While some love is expected from the team’s own media source, finding Gabbert comfortable in a new offense will do wonders for him as he battles for the starting spot. It’s the first crucial step in an offseason that will affect what he does for the rest of his career. Comfort is key. As he continues to learn the offense he will then be able to focus on doing better and better until he wins the jobs and is named starter.
Now, will he?
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims