A lot of Blaine Gabbert questions today.
It was a tough loss Sunday, tough to watch at times. No question, the rookie quarterback is at a tough juncture in his career.
We're at the point of the season we knew might come, where there's a lot of blame and a lot of quick-trigger analysis of Gabbert. He had a game Sunday in which he made mistakes and clearly struggled. Patience isn't easy when you're 2-6, and only time will tell when Gabbert will develop through his issues.
That won't satisfy many fans, and a lot of the answers today won't, either. It's just how it is.
Let's get to it . . .
Zach from Little Rock, AR:
Blaine Gabbert is very inaccurate as a passer at this point in his career. I am a Jags fan from Arkansas and it was difficult to see so many teams pass on Ryan Mallet because of his "off-field" issues. Right now, I would take Mallet over Gabbert without question. Gabbert is scared to take a hit, and those quarterbacks don't last long in this league. The Jags can't keep missing on top ten picks in the draft!
John: This is a common refrain this morning. Should have taken this guy. Should have taken that guy. It's not all the quarterback. The receivers are getting little separation, and whether that's coaching or ability or timing or whatever, they're just not. As far as Gabbert specifically, it's way, way too early to call it a miss, but you're right. The pocket presence and ability to stand in against the rush has to improve.
Ryan from Orlando, FL:
The defense can't be blamed entirely for the second-half touchdowns. The first one started on our end of the field because of special teams and the second one started on our end of the field because of an interception. Our defense has given the offense way more chances than they deserved, in my opinion, every single game this season.
John: I couldn't agree more. While the defensive players and Jack Del Rio were very clear Sunday that the defense had a chance to make plays and get off the field, there is a limit to how much you can ask the defense to do. The Jaguars allowed a length-of-the-field drive on the first possession and you would have liked to have seen them get a stop on 3rd-and-5 late, but aside from that, they allowed two touchdowns on short fields and created short fields twice for the offense that led to touchdown drives. The defense played well enough to win. No question.
Jensen from Bryan, TX:
From my view in Reliant Stadium, I think Gabbert played a better game than the past few. The problem was WAY too many dropped catchable balls. I also noticed that Jones and Walter seemed to be running free for the most part, it just seemed like Schaub was looking to the other side of the field. This loss falls on the shoulders of our WR corps; Gabbert should not get all the blame.
John: Blame the whole offense. That's fair this morning. It's a team sport.
Jonathon from Lawrence, KS:
Now that our season is all but over, I am now conflicted on who to root for two Sundays from now. A loss moves the Colts down the draft ladder, and keeps the Jaguars up on the draft ladder. That is almost a win-win. While a win helps push the Colts toward Luck. I never thought I would say this but, GO COLTS!
John: No, no, no, no. You root for your team and worry about the draft come April. There's no way to know which rookies will be good and which rookies won't. Win as many games as you can, and move on.
Phillip from Navarre, FL:
If Indy does end up with Luck, how much time do you think Peyton Manning has before he either retires or is traded?
John: I usually don't like answering Colts questions on a Monday, but considering Indianapolis is 0-8 it seems pertinent. The retirement issue won't have anything to do with Luck and everything to do with his desire to play and his physical ability to do so. If he is healthy – and that's a big if – I'd say he plays another three or four seasons. The trade issue is different and complex. I don't think Manning will be with the Colts long if they draft Luck and in that scenario, I wouldn't be surprised if he has played his last game for Indianapolis. The question: can the Colts trade him considering the issues with his neck? Would a team be willing to give up draft picks for a quarterback who is uncertain physically? As odd as it sounds, he could even be released or traded for a late-round draft pick. We'll see.
Kharri from Coatesville, PA:
So I'll ask for the third straight week. Do you think we are going to make the playoffs? Yes or no.
John: I don't recall seeing that question either week. I wanted to see the Jaguars put together at least two consecutive victories before I started talking playoffs. I really didn't think the last two weeks the chances were good and I certainly don't think they are now. I'd very much like to be wrong.
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
What a shame this season has been. I am getting texts from my friends saying Ponder is way better than Gabbert. I try to explain to them that he's young and he hasn't got much help. Can you explain why our QB can't throw for 100 yards like every other QB can?
John: I'd explain the way you're explaining it. And I might block the texts.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
I am (was) a David Garrard fan as much as the next guy is, but I have an argument that I want Jagnation to hear. Dave just had surgery, without even taking a regular-season snap. How much could he have helped this team? He couldn't; he would have been on the bench. I would like to propose a ban of all "If we never cut Garrard" questions and comments on all team forums and shows. It is time to move on. That is all.
John: Does this count as an "if-we-never-cut-Garrard" question?
Dane from Jacksonville:
It is alarming to me that Blaine Gabbert is consistently completing less than 50 percent of his passes on Sundays. Granted, there have been a lot of drops (which is incredibly frustrating to see every single week, but that's a question for another day), but even if those drops were all caught, he's still sitting at about 53 percent. To me, it looks like the lockout is really taking its toll on him.
John: I had it at about 54.5 percent, but I'll trust your math. The lockout didn't help, and without question some of the fundamental issues are ones that Gabbert will focus on in the off-season. Still, I wouldn't use the lockout as an excuse and I doubt Gabbert would, either.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
Offense lost that one.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
All other things aside, it was obvious the shortened week affected the team. The game plan was executed very poorly in all three phases. That being said, we have the bye and then the Colts. If ever there has been a time to take it one week at a time, it would seem this is it.
John: I'm not sure the defense executed the game plan poorly and to be honest, thought it played as well as possible. I actually thought the Jaguars for the most part played with decent energy, and energy level is usually where you see the effects of a short week. The same problems that have plagued the Jaguars – missed receptions and bad offensive timing – seemed to plague them again Sunday. I'm not sure time zone or a short week had much to do with that.
Evan from Ponte Vedra, FL:
It appears that Gabbert is regressing some, which you said was normal. However, it looks like he's almost static in the pocket despite his mobility. Can you explain if this is potentially a problem or not?
John: Absolutely it's potentially a problem. Let me clarify this: I have written often that you could expect ups and downs from Gabbert and I have written often that patience is necessary. That is not to say that it is a guarantee the problems we're seeing won't be long-term. The pocket presence and footwork and accuracy issues are intertwined and must be solved if Gabbert is to develop into a franchise quarterback. That's not critical and it's not defending Gabbert; it is simply reality. All indications are he has the desire, drive and determination to succeed and has many other attributes of elite quarterbacks. He sees the field and is a smart player. But obviously if he doesn't improve in these fundamental area, none of the other things matter. Will he improve on them? Only time will tell.