It may be unclear how the new regime in Jacksonville feels about Blaine Gabbert, but it became all too clear this week how the old one felt. A former Jags assistant has come out and said that Gabbert’s nickname around the training facility was “Blame” Gabbert. He was bestowed with this horrendous nickname because nobody feels he’s ever had to take responsibility for anything. He is always free of blame.
Not only could that be further from the truth, but the Jaguars’ lack of success over the last two seasons isn’t entirely a result of Gabbert’s shortcomings. It’s just easy to assign blame to Gabbert because he plays arguably the most important position in sports. Whether Jaguars fans want to believe it or not, their team’s shortcomings were a result of systemic failures. Not ones that can be placed on any one person’s shoulders. Especially not a 23 year old’s.
What kind of professional sports franchise lets this kind of embarrassing behaviour and immature name calling happen at their facility anyways? The fact that this information has been released just speaks about this team's readiness to compete, or lack thereof.
Back to the matter at hand though. Gabbert was never given a chance to succeed. From the very moment the Jags reached for him with the 10th overall pick, his career was destined to be one of incredible hardship. There was no justifying selecting him in this spot, and the fact that they did only added to the expectation level of any first round draft pick. In this case, very unfairly. Gabbert should have gone no earlier than the mid to late twenties. But such is life.
If drafting him nearly fifteen or so spots (depending on who you ask) earlier than he should have been wasn’t enough, financial issues in the waning days of the previous owners tumultuous run as the owner of the franchise led the Jaguars to cut incumbent starter David Garrard. To the amazement of none, his replacement Luke McCown played a lot like anybody would expect him to play, horribly. This resulted in Gabbert being thrown into the most untenable of situations running the Jaguars offense as early as week two. The offense lacked any playmakers in the receiving game, and that in combination with a so-so offensive line led to Gabbert posting awful numbers.
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It may have only been one season, and he may not have been set up for success but fans had seen enough. Gabbert was at the butt end of every Jags joke and less than a year after drafting him there were cries from the public to replace him.
In 2012 Gabbert lasted until only week 10 before a season ending injury to his arm resulted in his being placed on the IR. He had shown improvement to this point despite the fact that the Jags record did little to show it.
I can’t see Gabbert working out in Jacksonville either in the short or long term, but it is hardly his fault. There are very few quarterbacks in the league that could in their rookie season lead an efficient offense with Mike Thomas as their best receiver. Let alone one that should have never started in his rookie year. Not sure that Gabbert ever had the talent to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL, but the Jaguars never even gave him a chance. The good news for Jaguars fans, they are planning on having an open competition in camp. If Gabbert’s as bad as he is often made out to be, can’t imagine him beating out even Chad Henne.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV