He wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert was on full display Friday night, and the early returns from Gabbert's offseason work is encouraging.
Blaine Gabbert was just 5 of 10 with 62 yards and a touchdown, but the real story was his command of the Jaguars' offense. Last season, Gabbert looked uncomfortable most of the time, and he often succumbed to phantom pressure.
Last night, Gabbert only threw off of his back foot one time, and there was very real pressure in his face. The pass fell incomplete at the feet of a receiver. The only other big mistake was Gabbert's fumble. On that play, Gabbert was unable to find an open target down the field. Instead of simply eating the loss, Gabbert scrambled back in the pocket before being stripped by a defender behind him.
The most encouraging play of the game for me also happened to be an incomplete pass. On his first passing attempt of the year, Gabbert was hit by pressure straight in his face. Instead of bailing out of the pocket as he would have last season, he stood in the pocket and delivered the ball. Even though it was incomplete, it illustrated perfectly a big change between the Blaine Gabbert of last season and this year's version.
It wasn't a perfect performance, and there was a lot more to the Jaguars' game than Blaine Gabbert's performance, but we have a week to digest all that other information. The good news is that Gabbert, for the first time in his career, looked like he owned the Jaguars offense, and he was miles ahead of backup quarterback Chad Henne. There's still work to do, but it appears that Gabbert may be a serviceable player after all.