Blaine Gabbert vs. Mike Lombardi
By Daniel Lago
Blaine Gabbert has become a hot topic the last few days, specifically for his perceived lack of “toughness”. Pete Prisco wrote a good piece for cbssports.com and Alfie Crow from Big Cat Country posted a great follow-up where they explained why Gabbert had a rough rookie season and why the critics citing his “lack of toughness” are so horribly wrong. The most prevalent of these is Michal Lombardi of NFL Network.
Last December, after the Jaguars got shellacked by the Falcons on Thursday night, Lombardi wrote a rather scathing article about Blaine Gabbert essentially declaring him a bust after only starting 12 games.
Now to be completely fair, Gabbert had a terrible season statistically. All of the excuses for his poor play and why he can get better were pretty well documented by Prisco and Crow in the articles linked above, while all the reasons Gabbert should’ve played better and won’t ever be good are pretty easy to find on the internet.
During his interview with Gabbert, Prisco showed the Jags’ QB the remarks Lombardi made, to which Gabbert comically replied “Who is Mike Lombardi?”
“Timeout guys! Seriously, who is Mike Lombardi? Is he related to Vince?”
Apparently Lombardi felt the need to reply to this in yet another article condemning Gabbert, this time in the form of an open-letter. Now, most of the criticism of Gabbert’s play is the same we have seen and heard everywhere. His most vague comments however were that Gabbert “must show some level of improvement in every aspect of [his] game” and “that did not happen last year.” I decided to take a look at Gabbert’s statistics last year and see how he fared in his first 7 starts compared to his last 7.
Blaine Gabbert Statistics
First Seven Starts
Last Seven Starts
While not at a groundbreaking pace, Gabbert did improve incrementally over the last half of the season. He improved his completion percentage and his yards/game while the defense succumbed to countless injuries and he was throwing to a rag-tag team of receivers. All of this happened under an interim head coach and a group of “lame duck” assistant coaches on offense.
The statistic I find most important is his rushing attempts. These significantly decreased in the second half of the season, implying that Gabbert was less susceptible to tucking the ball in and bailing from the pocket early. This corresponds with his marked improvement in both mechanics and pocket presence over the last half of the season.
So why does Mike Lombardi keep saying Gabbert didn’t improve, and why is he so adamant about writing him off? Because he wrote his initial piece on Gabbert after the Jaguars were absolutely destroyed by the Falcons on national television. You know, the game where the Jaguars were starting street free-agents in the secondary and gave up a ton of points early to the Falcons, in turn forcing the Jaguars to go to the air early. The same game where Guy Whimper was a sieve and John Abraham looked like Reggie White. The same game where the Jaguars were trying to get garbage points at the end and Marcedes Lewis let a perfectly thrown ball bounce off his hands and into the hands of a Falcons’ defender.
It’s easy to make a rash judgment based off one game, but it’s not correct. Gabbert clearly showed improvement at the end of the season, and after a full offseason with a significantly improved coaching staff he should show a lot more.
Until then, I stand with Blaine Gabbert in asking “Who is Mike Lombardi?”