We were told when the Jaguars drafted Gabbert back in April that he had great potential, but he was extremely raw. We were told to be patient. Of course, back then we believed Gabbert would be able to wait as he had two veterans in front of him on the depth chart. That sure as hell went out the window faster than grandma's infamous mincemeat pie, but we've learned a lot about Blaine Gabbert none-the-less.
First off, it's pretty apparent that Gabbert is indeed a talented player, but it's also equally apparent that he needs time to develop. He's the type of quarterback that is normally drafted by a great team. He would then be groomed for 2 or 3 years before being handed the keys to the Ferrari. This is Jacksonville, where the team resembles a 1995 Ford F350 with 350,000 miles under its belt. This isn't a joy ride for anyone involved.
My central question about Blaine Gabbert is, when do we start judging him? We were told he was raw talent. That's fair enough. You can't judge him for what he's done this year. After all, his offensive line is inconsistent at best, his receivers are crappy at best, and he's faced 4 of the top 5 defenses in the league. The only top 5 defense he hasn't faced in a game is the Jacksonville Jaguars' defense. And oh-by-the-way, the Browns have the number 6 defense in the NFL, with their pass defense ranking numero uno. Yeah, it's fair to say that no judgement should/will be passed this season, at least not from me.
With judgement suspended until the middle of next season at the earliest, I think it's prudent to go over what Gabbert does well and what he needs to work on. So here we go, Blaine Gabbert style:
He's So Wise:
Blaine Gabbert is an accurate passer when he is able to set his feat and step into a pass. That's a given with almost any quarterback except Curtis Painter, Mark Sanchez, and that guy that once ran out the back of the endzone while he was with the Lions before the Colts picked him up. I'm sorry, I digress. Blaine Gabbert's accuracy in ideal circumstances has never been questioned. He throws a pretty ball, and a tight spiral can be the difference between fitting it into a tight window or throwing an interception. In that way, I'm comfortable with Gabbert.
Speaking of mechanics, have you seen this guys release? Blaine Gabbert is to Tim Tebow as spaghetti is to a piece of macaroni. That is, Tebow's release takes foooorrreeevvvveeeerrr. Gabbert has one of the shortest throwing motions I've ever seen, especially with short to mid-ranged passes. My only concern is that the ball comes out somewhat lower than many quarterbacks, but in a league where pass rush is everything, I'm willing to sacrifice height for a little extra speed on the release.
Finally, Blaine Gabbert understands the concept that you can't win games if you're not even competitive. Gabbert may be a little gun shy, but he doesn't turn the ball over very often. In fact, he has thrown just 5 interceptions this season, just 2 more than Alex Smith who may be the best QB in the league in 2011 at not giving the ball away.
For everything that Gabbert does well, there's something that he doesn't do well, and you probably saw this one coming miles away. Gabbert's foot work is borderline laughable. Frankly, it sucks. When Gabbert isn't needlessly moving in the pocket, he's often busy throwing the ball at Maurice Jones-Drew's feat for no particular reason. It all goes back to his foot work. On longer passes, it's not as apparent when a quarterback throws while off balance. If the ball hits at a receiver's feat 30 yards down field, we think it's just a poor pass. When it happens 5 yards from the quarterback, all we can do is shake our heads in disgust/guilty amusement. The silver lining is that it's indeed fixable given good coaching (something the Jaguars have) and time (something most of the Jaguars' coaches don't have).
The other point I want to touch on with Blaine Gabbert is his 2 minute drills. His only successful attempts to manufacture points late in a half have come on long Maurice Jones-Drew runs. Normally those happen when the Jaguars are actually trying to run out the clock. The Colts game from last Sunday is an example (although Josh Scobee shanked the field goal), and so is the Panthers game from earlier this season. His failed attempts often include fumbles or failed last second lateral plays which, although entertaining, don't exactly bode well for the team.