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How Blaine Gabbert Claimed the Jacksonville Jaguars Starting Quarterback Job

It was a little more than a quarter of play, but it’s hard not to be impressed by Blaine Gabbert’s performance against the New York Jets. Gabbert has never been beyond average using conventional statistics but he managed to buck that trend Saturday night.

13/16 (81.3 comp%), 165 yards, 10.3 Yds/Att, 1 TD, 0 sacks and 0 QB hits

Gabbert has been notorious for dominating the bottom of the rankings in yards per attempt (6.0 in 2012 and 5.3 in 2011), but he managed to consistently gain big chunks of yards in the passing game. Gabbert always had the arm to make big time throws down the field but – at fault of the coaching staff and his own trepidation to challenge vertically – he hasn’t utilized the deep part of the field much in his first two years.

Gabbert came out of the gate Saturday night by throwing a strike to Ace Sanders in the deep middle of the field. Gabbert utilized the entire field to dice up the Jets defense.

Pass Distance

Att/Comp

Yards

TDs

20+ yards

1/1

35

0

10-19 yards

1/2

16

0

0-9 yards

6/8

51

1

Behind the line of
scrimmage

5/5

63

0

May 13, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch during organized team activities at The Florida Blue Health

Aside from the first pass to Sanders, Gabbert got a majority of his yards on short routes or designed screens and bubble passes. One big difference between Mularkey’s offense last year and how Fisch is using Gabbert so far is the pocket movement. Fisch did a good job of rolling Gabbert out and using his athleticism and ability to throw on the run. He also mixed it up a little bit by letting Gabbert challenge the deep middle part of the field. Gabbert only threw three passes farther than 10 yards but they came at the right time in the offensive rhythm.

Fisch also had no problem doing what a good offensive coordinator does – getting the ball in the hands of  his playmakers. Ace Sanders, Justin Blackmon, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Denard Robinson got the ball behind the line of scrimmage 5 times and managed to gain 63 yards. Short passes like that are essentially runs and they did a great job of using those to get Gabbert comfortable early.

In the end Gabbert won the job by being decisive, accurate and most importantly by completing the easy throws. In the past, Gabbert too often threw the ball in the dirt on short routes or completely missed on routine throws that professional quarterbacks should make in their sleep. The offense will improve significantly if he can consistently get the ball to the offensive playmakers even if it’s behind the line of scrimmage.

 

- Daniel Lago

Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89

 

Topics: Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets

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