There comes a time in every athlete’s career where the doubters outweigh the supporters. That time would be the 2013 season for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert who has had quite a tumultuous two years thus far with one of the league’s perennial losers. He has been under pressure quite frequently since being the 10th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, but the team at least hopes to have alleviated those issues heading into the upcoming year.
The Jags didn’t reach for a pass rusher in this past April’s draft and opted instead to add a cornerstone offensive tackle in former Texas A&M Aggie Luke Joeckel. He figures to start on the right side in his rookie year with incumbent left tackle Eugene Monroe manning the left side to form a formidable duo on the edges.
Not much went right in Jacksonville a year ago with Maurice Jones-Drew missing the entire second half of the season with a serious foot injury. The team missed that running threat and struggled mightily when forced to become a one-dimensional aerial attack. Wide receivers Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon figure to be Gabbert’s primary weapons, but Blackmon will begin the year with a four-game suspension which won’t help the QB’s cause.
As for competition at the position, Gabbert and veteran Chad Henne split snaps at OTAs which suggests that the new coaching staff is just as perplexed as the previous regime on what to make of the team’s quarterback situation. Henne played well in stretches last season, but the club has to return to Gabbert in his crucial third year in the league to decide if he’s worth hanging on to or if they should chalk the pick up as a failure and move on. Heck, if they both struggle, maybe rookie Denard Robinson will even get some snaps under center this season.
With 21 career touchdowns and 25 career turnovers to date (17 interceptions, eight fumbles), Gabbert has to first prove that he can protect the pigskin. The Jags are in a bad way without giving their opponents extra possessions, but doing that only further ensures them with a loss for the week.
At 6’4” 235lbs. with decent mobility and exceptional arm strength, the tools are all present for Gabbert to stake his claim to the starting quarterback job with the Jags in 2013. How he progresses under new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s scheme will likely determine just what his level of success will be this season. And as a result, it could very well decide just what Gabbert’s future is in the city of Jacksonville.