What’s Next: Blaine Gabbert – Looking Forward, Waaay Forward – Again
By Luke Sims
In the first week of October, we looked at Blaine Gabbert’s numbers in comparison to similar starting rookie quarterbacks. Not just Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, but also quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and David Carr to get a feel for how well we can expect Blaine Gabbert to play.
Back in October, things were not looking good. With a small sample size of only 69 passes, Blaine was averaging a 47.8% completion percentage. Definitely not what the Jags are looking for in a run heavy offense that relies on efficiency in the passing game to create effective balance. Of the top three rookie quarterbacks (in terms of games played/started), Andy Dalton played the most efficiently but did not provide the same offensive spark as Cam Newton. Unfortunately, Blaine Gabbert, taken a round before Dalton, fizzled in comparison with just over 50% completed and leading the lead worst passing attack.
In the first article, we compared Gabbert to Eli Manning. The completion percentages were similar and the yards per game were close as well. Now, as Blaine progressed with more reps, he has looked more like Mark Sanchez or David Carr. While comparing Blaine Gabbert to Eli Manning is all well and good now that Elite Eli is becoming, well, elite, being in the same company as David Carr isn’t exactly complimentary. And that’s with 37 less sacks taken than Carr. What is somewhat more complimentary is the comparison to Mark Sanchez. While I’m no big Sanchez fan, his teams have gone to two AFC championship games and the offense is rather similar to the Jags offense, but slightly more balanced. Yet, Sanchez has regressed this season and is more known for changing the game in a negative way than in a positive way. When the Jets look to win a game, they don’t look to Sanchez’s arm, but rather to the legs of Shonn Greene. Even if a big pass is made, it’s usually to the credit of a big name receiver or their brilliant tight end. Blaine Gabbert has had no such luxury in his first season.
So, where would we like to see Blaine Gabbert be? Would we have preferred him to look like Matt Ryan with a 61% completion percentage and 3,400 yards? Sure. But Matty Ice had Roddy White. Would we habe preferred him to look more like Peyton Manning and Cam Newton and set the rookie record for passing yards? Sure. But he hasn’t. So, what can we expect from Blaine? What did we really come away with with pick number 10 in the 2011 draft? So far, it’s looking like a guy who is starting to get a feel for what it means to run a pro offense.
We know we have a kid starting behind center. While his long locks may get the ladies, it’s more representative of his mindset right now. That mindset is playing a game, enjoying it, and reaping the rewards that come with it. Blaine Gabbert is learning, and his supporting cast will have to get better. We know aout the drops. We know about the poorly run routes, but we also know that there is some leadership on that field too. Maurice Jone-Drew is a godsend of a running back for a rookie. He can run, catch, and block with the best of them (he established he was the best this year). But beyond that, he wants to win. He hates losing. You hear it when he speaks. You see it in his eyes when he talks to reporters. That fire will be imparted to our dear Blaine. Brad Meester is another man who has a ton of knowledge to impart on Blaine. He’s got a deep skill set, proves that a strong work ethic will do wonders for longevity in the league, and he knows what it is like to win. Not many players on the Jaguars have that knowledge. Meester has been with the team for years and understands what it takes to win, what level of play is required. He’s served with Brunnel, Leftwich, Garrard, and now Gabbert. He can teach each time the team steps out for a snap. If he can continue to flirt with aging and win, he’ll be able to provide Gabbert with plenty of insight into how to play the game better.
While most of the end of this article is speculation, it really comes down to the numbers. Below is the table of rookie quarterbacks with some telling statistics. See how Blaine stacks up. Will he turn around and go elite like Eli? Or will he fade away like David Carr? We’re not certain yet. But what we know is that as great a barometer as these statistics are, it’s up to Blaine to really correct his game and become better.
I think we’ll see that next year and in years to come.
– Luke N. Sims
Cam Newton: 16 games, 310 of 517 (60%), 4,051 yards (253.2 yards/game), 21 touchdowns, 17 picks, 35 sacks.
Blaine Gabbert: 15 games, 210 of 413 (50.8%), 2,214 yards (147.6 yards/game), 12 touchdowns, 11 picks, 40 sacks.
Andy Dalton: 16 games, 300 of 516 (58.1%), 3,398 yards (212.4 yards/game), 20 touchdowns, 13 picks, 24 sacks.
Sam Bradford: 16 games, 354 of 590 (60%), 3,512 yards (219.5 yards/game), 18 touchdowns, 15 picks, 34 sacks.
Matt Ryan: 16 games, 265 of 434 (61%), 3,440 yards (215 yards/game), 16 touchdowns, 11 picks, 17 sacks.
Joe Flacco: 16 games, 257 of 428 (60%), 2,971 yards (185.7 yards/game), 14 touchdowns, 12 picks, 32 sacks.
Mark Sanchez: 15 games, 196 of 364 (53.8%), 2,444 yards (162.9 yards/game), 12 touchdowns, 20 picks, 26 sacks.
Eli Manning: 10 games, 95 of 197 (48.2%), 1,043 yards (115.9 yards/game), 6 touchdowns, 9 picks, 13 sacks.
David Carr: 16 games, 233 of 444 (52.5%), 2,592 yards (162 yards/game), 9 touchdowns, 15 picks, 76 sacks.
Peyton Manning: 16 games, 326 of 575 (56.7%), 3739 yards (233.7 yards/game), 26 touchdowns, 28 picks, 22 sacks.