With former first round pick Blaine Gabbert being placed on injured reserve this week and Chad Henne being named the starter for the remainder of the season, a lot of questions are being asked about Gabbert’s future in Jacksonville.
He’s ended up on IR because of a torn labrum in his non throwing shoulder and a forearm injury sustained against the Texans this past Sunday. Head Coach Mike Mularkey said that the new injury “is significant enough for him to miss considerable time” but he demoted Gabbert to the bench before the extent of his injury was fully understood and cited the performance of Henne coming in and throwing a career high four touchdowns rather than Gabbert’s injury as the reason for the change. What does this mean going forward for Gabbert?
I can’t help but feel like the organisation are thinking about giving up on him. Coach Mularkey has already stated that if Henne plays well through the final six games of this year, he’ll enter next season as the starter. But also, with the Jags pretty much guaranteeing themselves a high draft pick next year, they have to wonder whether he is their franchise quarterback of the future.
The only problem I see with that is if the front office decided to draft a new QB in the first round it would be a similar situation to 2011. Outside of Cam Newton and Andy Dalton and with Colin Kaepernick’s star just beginning to rise, no QB drafted before or after Gabbert has made a massive impact on the league just yet. Other QB’s taken were Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Ryan Mallet and Ricky Stanzi. I just think that this coming draft class isn’t a very strong one from a QB point of view, unlike the 2004 draft which spawned Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger and four Lombardi trophies! Only West Virginia’s Geno Smith, the current favourite to win the Heisman Trophy is looking like being worthy of a high pick, as USC’s Matt Barkley continues to slip down draft boards all around the league.
So rather than dump him, I think they stand a better chance to keep him on and maybe let him sit behind Henne and learn the position and work towards running a pro style offense with more efficiency. Gabbert ran the spread offense in college, and a lot of QB’s can struggle to adjust to the pro game with many former high picks falling out of the league after only a few seasons (Akili Smith, Tim Couch and even recent free agent Vince Young). Hopefully he can be given the chance to win his job back because Jacksonville’s problems aren’t all down to Gabbert. The loss of Maurice Jones-Drew with a foot injury was catastrophic for a team already in free fall. Prior to his injury, MJD was accounting for one-third of all offensive production. This placed more pressure on Gabbert to perform without a solid running game, a recipe for disaster when playing a second year QB low on confidence.
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