Oh how the pendulum swings. Just as the media and fans begin to yet again write off Blaine Gabbert, he has a showing like he did on Saturday night. There were several things that went right against the New York Jets, none as important as Gabbert’s noted progress.
Gabbert went 13 of 16 for 165 yards and a touchdown. It’s not just Gabbert’s stats that looked better. Blaine Gabbert looked better. He looked in control. He looked confident.
Did he look good enough to completely erase all concerns? Of course not. At least not for me anyways. It’s only preseason, and as I’ve stated-Gabbert has looked good before in preseason. All of this is null and void, but it was definitely good to see the 23 year old take charge and lead our offense to a score while commanding the offense.
No matter what happens on the field, no matter how good you may be at other positions, make no mistake…quarterback is the most important position there is. Just stating the obvious right? If you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have very much. Do I think we have our quarterback? Well…we have a week 1 starter. Anything beyond that is beyond me.
Gabbert has a sprained thumb and will miss the rest of the preseason. For some reason, most of the local media is treating this like it’s not a very big deal. Guess what? It is a big deal. Gabbert was just starting to show signs of life. This is an unfortunate injury. #11 needs all the reps he can get. With the preseason dress rehearsal happening this Saturday, this injury could not have happened at a worse time. Gabbert is not the type of talent that can afford to sit out, come back in and still perform like he did against the New York Jets. I really wish that he had the opportunity to build on his recent preseason success.
This means that Chad Henne will take all of the 1st team reps for the rest of the preseason. On the bright side: who needs the reps more? I would definitely say Henne.
The future is shaky and uncertain at best. It’s a very real possibility that sometime this season, Henne will have to make in season starts. It’s important that Henne continues to work and compete as if he’s still vying for a starting position, because chances are the Jaguars still may need him this season.
Good news is, this quarterback competition is settled. Gabbert has showed enough in camp, and definitely on Saturday night, that he has won this competition fair and square.
Justin Blackmon made his preseason debut as well as Johnathan Cyprien. Blackmon had 4 catches for 47 yards, and even though Cyprien had some penalties called against him, the aggressiveness is there and his ceiling is obviously much, much higher than Chris Prosinski.
I believe Maurice Jones-Drew is in for a huge year. A very, very big year. He’s healthy and on board with the new regime. It was good to see #32 out there.
Cecil Shorts returned to practice this week. Can you imagine what that’s going to look like come week 5? Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield?
3 major cogs in the offense have returned. Shorts, Blackmon, and Jones-Drew will definitely be three to keep an eye on against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Luke Joeckel is still dealing with a hip flexor and is apparently on the right track. I’d like to see Joeckel get more reps at right tackle, just to get more experience going up against NFL defenses. Am I worried about Joeckel? Not right now. Joeckel has the type of natural ability and talent that should allow him to jump right in when healthy again. At this time Joeckel should do exactly what Blackmon, Cyprien, Shorts and Jones-Drew have done-get healthy.
I’d like to see a reduction in penalties and turnovers. 12 penalties for 100 yards and 3 turnovers will not cut it. I don’t care how talented of a team you have, with those kinds of numbers most of the time you stand a better chance of beating yourself. This is a very young team that must learn how to play assignment sound, disciplined football.
I was a huge Tobias Palmer fan coming into training camp and preseason, and I still believe that he is a talented young player. Along with every other young player on the current roster, he’s had a fair opportunity to make this team. If he keeps making mistakes like he did last Saturday, he won’t and he quite possibly may have already lost his roster spot. Jason Spitz was already shown the door. I’m not saying that it was all because of that beautiful botched snap. I’m simply saying it more than likely didn’t help.
Thankfully, this is preseason. There is still plenty of time to get healthy and cut back on those pesky mental mistakes that will lose ball games. Who else is looking forward to the Jaguars dress rehearsal this Saturday night?
-David R. Johns