He's 5-21 as a starting quarterback. His completion percentage is just over 50 per cent. He's still throwing more picks than touchdowns. Those aren't exactly the numbers you would expect from the number 10 overall draft pick, but those are Blaine Gabbert's disappointing stats four games into his third season in the NFL.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him out of Missouri and handed him the keys to their offense, they certainly expected more. To this point, they haven't seen it, but they remain committed to him as the starter…at least for now.
Gabbert was the third of four quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder are at least showing signs of becoming the players their teams hoped for when they drafted them. Second rounders Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick have playoff appearances and a Super Bowl on their resumes. Gabbert has just five wins.
The Jags are extending Gabbert a long leash, but you have to wonder just how much longer that will get. New head coach Gus Bradley doesn't seem ready to make any changes just yet.
"He’s a very positive individual, very upbeat. Was in all day yesterday, watched tape, went and worked out with some of the guys. He’s really taken on that leadership role. He’s taken some hits now as far as hits on the quarterback. And his poise and ability to stand in the pocket and his willingness has all been very impressive, and that’s why I think it’s real easy to stand by him.”
Both Bradley and Gabbert know the pressure that comes with being an NFL quarterback. To Gabbert's credit, he doesn't back away from a bit of it.
“Well, it’s (the pressure) rightfully deserved. It’s part of the job description when you signed up. The quarterback and the head coach are the ones that get the blame and they’re the ones that get more of the credit than they deserve when things are going well. But, it’s the quarterback’s job to lead his football team and it’s the quarterback’s job to get points on the board. That’s the thing that we’re working towards right now, and really it just boils down to the 11 guys around the field at any given time. You just have to focus on your job and do that job well.”
This weekend marks a homecoming for Gabbert, a St. Louis area native and Mizzou alum. Gabbert will have a lot of friends and family in the crowd at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. Facing a Rams defense hungry to prove themselves, especially the Rams' pass rush, will make it a difficult task for Gabbert to make this trip home a successful one. Adding to that is dealing of RT Eugene Monroe to Baltimore this week, meaning Jacksonville will be trying to stop Chris Long and Robert Quinn with a rookie (Luke Joeckel) and an undrafted free agent.
Gabbert is 2-0 in his career playing inside the Dome from his days at Mizzou. Chances are that undefeated string will come to an end on Sunday. The question is whether Gabbert can remain the Jags' starter beyond this week. Patience does have its limits.
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