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Reading Between the Lines: More Hints That the Jacksonville Jaguars Will Start Rookie Quarterback Blaine Gabbert

June 28th, 2011 at 3:06 PM
By Brendan Sonnone

On the surface it looks like the Jacksonville Jaguars have the right idea when it comes to developing rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Bring him along slowly, don’t ruin his confidence and let veteran starter David Garrard show the new kid the ropes. Sounds great, right? 

Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert runs onto the field for a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri on October 23, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter told on Monday that the team would give Gabbert roughly 33 percent of the practice snaps when the team begins training camp following the NFL lockout. 

Here’s the plan:

“It’s like 42, 33 and 20 something,” Koetter said. “What it does is create a situation where Blaine will be learning the offense as if he’s the (No.) 2. Luke (McCown) will technically be the three, but competing to be as high as he can go. It forces Blaine to come along without putting pressure on him to come in and be the starter.”

The Jaguars selected Gabbert with the 10th overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft with the intention of him quickly taking over as the team’s franchise quarterback. Just how quick remains to be seen but Koetter’s interview is pretty revealing.

It seems to me that Koetter is leaving himself a lot of wiggle room when it comes to analyzing his quarterbacks. 

“Now, Blaine may play up or down from that number (of repetitions)” Koetter added. “We’ll see how it goes from there. Same with David. Same with Luke. . . . Coach (Jack Del Rio) has structured the reps as such that Blaine’s not going to be sitting there, just sitting on his helmet.”

“He’s going to be getting reps and he’s going to be the guy with the pressure on him to catch up. Luke and Dave know what’s going on. I’m sure those guys have been studying.”

Translation: If Gabbert plays anywhere near the level of Garrard, he’s going to start. 

The Jaguars as a team seem mixed about Gabbert. Veterans like Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis have spoken out against the Missouri quarterback but Garrard and now coaches have indicated that is Gabbert is the better player he will get the majority of the team’s reps.

Here’s why I think you’ll see Gabbert starting by, say, the third or fourth game of the season if the lockout doesn’t go on too long. 

Yeah, on the surface the plan of letting Gabbert grow behind Garrard for a year makes perfect sense, but if Gabbert has anywhere near the capability of Garrard then the Jaguars will certainly go to him. 

That’s because Garrard still makes mistakes and panics as if he were closer to a rookie than a 33-year-old veteran. He just hasn’t progressed since he took over as the team's starter in 2007. 

Gabbert on the other hand will make a nice amount of mistakes, but that’s expected of him. If he shows he has the propensity for making big plays when needed like he did in college then he will undoubtedly take over as the team’s starter sooner than later.

Plus quarterbacks have shown no more than ever that they are capable of playing well as rookies (i.e. Matt RyanSam Bradford .) You can attribute that to more complex offenses and year-round passing tournaments in high school. That means the notion that a quarterback needs years to develop doesn’t always apply now.

So if Gabbert can show maturity as a person and player early on during his tenure then the Jaguars seem to be more than open to the possibility of starting him. 

Tags: Blaine Gabbert, David Garrard, Football, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL, NFL Draft

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