Gabbert unfazed by criticism, offensive problems
Blaine Gabbert is comfortable enough with himself to handle all
So go ahead, pile it on.
Talk about his pocket presence and his errant passes. Ask about
his confidence and his receivers. Blame him for the losses and the
Jacksonville’s laid-back rookie quarterback doesn’t really seem
”Whatever,” he said Saturday. ”I know we take the brunt of
the criticism. That’s just the position we play, and that’s how it
should be. We’re the face of this team, and the ball goes through
us on every play. We kind of shape it. I know things haven’t gone
well this year and I haven’t played how I wanted to, but there have
been a lot of positive things that have gone on.”
The positives have been difficult to see.
The Jaguars (4-10) rank last in the NFL in total offense and
have scored 14 or fewer points in 10 of 14 games. Gabbert has
completed 50.6 percent of his passes for 1,924 yards, with 11
touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He had two costly fumbles in
Thursday night’s 41-14 debacle at Atlanta, giving him 14 turnovers
in 13 games.
Maybe more troubling for the former Missouri standout is that
fellow rookies Cam Newton (Carolina), Andy Dalton (Cincinnati),
Christian Ponder (Minnesota), Jake Locker (Tennessee) and even T.J.
Yates (Houston) have looked better than Gabbert in 2011.
Gabbert has heard about it all season.
”Everybody’s going to be criticized for something, whether you
deserve it or you don’t,” said Gabbert, the 10th overall pick in
April’s draft. ”It’s the way the world works, I guess. It’s
whatever. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I can handle it.”
Gabbert has been so maligned that some question whether general
manager Gene Smith would consider drafting another quarterback in
2012, especially since Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Southern Cal’s Matt
Barkley, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones
are expected to be taken in the first round.
But Smith, new team owner Shahid Khan and interim coach Mel
Tucker insist Gabbert is the guy – for now and for the future.
”I think he can be a successful quarterback,” Khan said.
”This is a passing league. This is a quarterback league. If you
are not doing those, you’re not going to be successful. I care
about playing winning football. What is winning football today?
It’s quarterback, it’s a passing game. With that, comes excitement,
which puts fans in the seats.”
The Jaguars believe their biggest problem is a lack of quality
They waived Jason Hill last month, a day after firing coach Jack
Del Rio, and parted ways with receivers coach Johnny Cox. Rookie
Cecil Shorts and Jarett Dillard have been disappointments, leaving
Mike Thomas as the only dependable wideout on the roster. With
Thomas (concussion) and Shorts (hamstring) out Thursday,
Jacksonville was down to Dillard, Chastin West, newly signed Taylor
Price and special teams ace Kassim Osgood.
The Jaguars are well aware of their deficiencies at the
It’s the main reason they have written off Gabbert’s slow
progress. The Jaguars expect to get a receiver in free agency and
at least another one in the draft, and with a new offensive
coaching staff on the horizon, they are holding off on making any
judgments about Gabbert until all the pieces are in place around
Nonetheless, they realize criticism is inevitable.
”I think that he understands that he’s going to be
criticized,” Tucker said. ”We’re all going to be criticized at
some point, sometimes more than others and that’s part of it. …
He understands his position and I think he handles it well. We talk
about that all the time. I think he’s very grounded, has confidence
in himself and his abilities. He has confidence in his
”I think he’s able to put things in perspective, and that’s