The Blaine Gabbert Conundrum
By Luke Sims
In the first drive last night, Blaine Gabbert looked good. Really good. He had some strong passes, looked in control, and managed to step up to avoid pressure and keep his eyes down field. The end result: a touchdown that almost set the tone for the entire 32-31 victory. Unfortunately for Blaine and company, the majority of those 32 points came from the second and third team offense.
Gabbert’s development is highly evident from the first drive during the game. During that drive the “first team” offense was matched against the Giants’ stingy “first team” defense. With some people out on both sides it was not a perfect replication of what the first team will look like, but the ability to move the ball by the Jaguars was something we haven’t seen in a year.
The offense was most assuredly scripted before the game and did not reveal too much about what scheming the Jaguars may be using during the season, but it was decidedly more uptempo and relied on quick releases and good route running by the Jaguars.
So let’s take a look at the good.
Gabbert managed to orchestrate an 89-yard, 13 play scoring drive right out of the gate. Gabbert was 4-6 on that drive and capped it off with a three yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts III. That touchdown pass in the corner was a very well thrown ball to beat the coverage and put it only where Shorts could get it. It was a pass that I’m not certain Gabbert could have made last season, but is definitely one he will be making through the season this year.
So, with the first drive being the most important in a preseason game, why is Gabbert still a conundrum? Aside from one preseason drive not being able to predict the future, Gabbert looked a lot more like his old self during the second quarter. On a drive that began with 41 seconds left in the first quarter, Gabbert’s first two throws looked just like his rookie year. You can call it poor pass protection and route running, the first involved Gabbert falling backward before anybody touched him trying to throw the ball while wilting. The second throw was off target to Laurent Robinson, flying out of bounds on what was apparently a miscommunication.
The end stat line is not as pretty as his first drive. 5-10, 67 yards, one touchdown. The positives are that Gabbert looked in control, knew what he was doing more than he did his rookie year, and seemed to get things going for the Jaguars offense. The negative, he regressed early in the second quarter.
The offensive line needs to get better for Gabbert to not feel that pressure, because when nobody is barreling down on him, he looks pretty good to me. Is there a red “no hit” jersey for the regular season?
– Luke N. Sims
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