At the halfway point of the season Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has six starts under his belt, but he has struggled mightily as he adjusts to playing quarterback in the NFL.
Even though Gabbert has struggled, he has shown some flashes of the ability that led the Jaguars to trade up and draft him with the 10th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. However, his flaws have been more obvious during the first half of the season. Gabbert’s poor footwork and his tendency to throw off his back foot has caused some major accuracy problems that has led him to only complete 45.7% of his passes.
While most seasons you could make the excuse that Gabbert is a rookie going through some growing pains, but this season we have seen great success for other rookie quarterbacks. As we found out following Sunday’s loss to the Texans, Gabbert does not like to make excuses for his poor play, but he has not performed to the level of his fellow rookies.
Arthur Arkush of ProFootballWeekly.com suggests that Gabbert is struggling in part because he is getting the least help from his supporting cast among the crop of rookie quarterbacks.
“Not only do the Jaguars have one of the more average receiving corps in all of football, the team’s top two playmakers, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis, aren’t doing enough to help out their QB,” Arkush wrote.
While nobody is questioning his production in the rushing game, Jones-Drew has not had his usual impact in the passing game so far this season. Arkush points out that he is only on pace for 24 receptions this year which is well below his season average of 47. Jones-Drew is the Jaguars most dynamic playmaker and getting him more involved in the passing game would certainly help Gabbert and the Jaguars move the football.
The Jaguars other big playmaker, tight end Marcedes Lewis, has had almost no effect on the offense so far this season. Despite becoming one of the highest paid tight ends in the NFL this off season, Lewis has been plagued by some key drops and an inability to become the go-to target that he had become for former Jaguars quarterback David Garrard over the past couple of seasons.
The Jaguars are out of the playoff race, but it is important for the offense and Gabbert to show some signs of progress over the second half of the season. Gabbert is going to need some help if he is going to take the next step towards becoming an effective NFL quarterback.
If he doesn’t get that help, he could continue to regress and the Jaguars can’t afford for that to happen.