After taking over for the ineffective Luke McCown after 31-3 loss to the New York Jets in the second week of the 2011 season, former Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio decided to make the switch to Gabbert. Gabbert struggled to a 4-10 record with a 65.4 quarterback rating that was the worst in the NFL last season.
Now in his first interview since the end of the season with Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union, Gabbert disclosed for the first time that he played most of last season with a toe injury.
While he did not disclose what exactly he injured, he did say that it was significant enough that he had to go through some rehab this offseason.
Some critics will suggest that a toe injury has nothing to do with how Gabbert threw the football last season, but it should at the very least answer some questions about how tough he is.
It is easy to forget that Gabbert came into the NFL at the worst possible time for a rookie quarterback. Gabbert had only had six days of practice in last year’s lockout shortened offseason before he started his first preseason game against the New England Patriots. Despite all the problems, Gabbert never made any excuses for his performance last season.
“There was no room to make excuses, or to come up with reasons why you did this or that,” Gabbert told Frenette. “Looking back on it, I was just happy I owned up to my mistakes.”
Now that Gabbert has been assured a full offseason of practice with a new coaching staff that is fully invested in his development, he is confident that he will be able to show in 2012 that he can be a franchise quarterback for the Jaguars.
“I know I’m going to improve this year,” Gabbert said. “‘I’ve already improved immensely from our last game, just having the chance to review every pass play, every run play, all the checks [at the line of scrimmage] that I had to make.”
Gabbert is right that the experience he gained in starting 14 games last season is invaluable to a young quarterback trying to make the transition from a college style spread offense to an NFL style offense.
The true test for Gabbert in 2012 will be whether or not he learns from the mistakes he made in 2011.