Blaine Gabbert: One More Year or Become The Raiders?


November 18, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I like reading about whether the Jacksonville Jaguars will draft a new quarterback to replace Blaine Gabbert or out-battle him for the starting job.  I like the free agent speculation.  All in all, I like the competitive nature of Gus Bradley’s team since he has come to town.

If Gabbert loses his starting job because he underperforms during the open quarterback competition, then this whole analysis is moot.  If the Jaguars draft Geno Smith to replace Gabbert (let’s be honest, he’d probably outplay him) then this whole analysis will become a bit more relevant.  If the Jaguars bring in a free agent, then maybe this will become eerily similar.

FOX Sports just did a feature on the 22 quarterbacks who have started games for the Oakland Raiders since 1995.  That’s more than one different quarterback each year.  The Jaguars, who started playing in 1995, have had 15 different quarterbacks start at least a game over the same period.  That mark isn’t much better.  No offense to the Raiders, but they aren’t exactly the measure of excellence in the NFL.  The closer the Jags are to similarities with the Raiders, the further they are from success, usually.

What is so striking about the Raiders is that they have had so many players come in to be the starter who last only a year or two.  The Jaguars have had a lot of players step up due to injury, like Todd Bouman, Trent Edwards, and Quinn Gray.  But the point here is not that the Raiders have oft-injured quarterbacks (though they have), but that giving up on quarterbacks after just a year or two is not as wise as it is popular.

The prevailing thought through the NFL right now is that a quarterback, especially a first-round quarterback, should be able to come in, start immediately, and find success.  Obviously Jamarcus Russell wasn’t worth waiting on, but someone like Gabbert is not Russell.  Since drafting Russell in ’07, the Raiders have not drafted a quarterback in the NFL Draft (Terrell Pryor was drafted in the supplemental draft).  But what about the quarterbacks they drafted between ’95 and ’07, how did they turn out?  Here’s a list of Raiders QBs they’ve drafted and given up on in reverse chronological order to 1995:

  • 2007:  Jamarcus Russell, LSU, 1st Round
  • 2005: Andrew Walter, Arizona State, 3rd Round
  • 2002:  Ronald Curry, North Carolina, 7th Round (played wide receiver)
  • 2001:  Marques Tuiasosopo, Washington 2nd Round

Since 1995, the Jaguars have drafted five quarterbacks:

  • 2011:  Blaine Gabbert, Mizzou, 1st Round
  • 2003:  Byron Leftwich, Marshall, 1st Round
  • 2002:  David Garrard, East Carolina, 4th Round
  • 1998:  Jonathan Quinn, Middle Tennessee State, 3rd Round
  • 1995:  Rob Johnson, USC, 4th Round

Among the Jaguars and Raiders in 20 years of drafts, only one quarterback either team has drafted has made the Pro Bowl, David Garrard.  Of the three drafted quarterbacks by the Raiders, they averaged 12 starts before being given up on.  The Jaguars have given their quarterbacks many more chances, averaging 29 starts before moving past them.  But do they want to start a trend where they don’t give the players they drafted the chance to really grow into the position?

While players stick around even though they have been passed over for the next player (like Garrard did after Leftwich was drafted), it seems a little early to give up on Gabbert (24 starts).  Russell had a better winning percentage (28%) than Gabbert does (20.8%) but was much more of a liability.

The Jaguars are going to move past a large number of players who used to be with the team before the time of GM Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley.  Gabbert could easily be one of those players.  But I think Gabbert should be given another chance to show that he is or is not the quarterback the Jaguars want.  He’ll get his opportunity to battle for the starting spot and he’ll be able to show what he has to offer, but it will be tough to move past him if he isn’t given the starts to show that he can grow into his position.  The Raiders have supplemented their lack of opportunity for their draft picks with big spending in free agency .  They moved past players quickly, sifting through the cast-offs of other teams for glimpses of talent.

I don’t want the Jaguars to become like that.

I don’t think the Jags will become like that, but looking at the Raiders, who just traded for Seattle backup Matt Flynn, I know that I want the Jaguars to look less and less like them and more like a patient team that builds smartly, like the Pittsburgh Steelers of Green Bay Packers.  It looks like the team is moving that way, but right now we’re lumped together with teams like the Raiders at the bottom of the NFL.  This needs to be turned around the right way.

– Luke N. Sims

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