(The second of two stories talking to Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter as coaches wrap up their off-season preparation for the 2011 season) . . .
As Dirk Koetter sees it, the approach is simple.
And no, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator said he doesn't see the most-talked about issue of the team's off-season as being difficult to handle.
Koetter, entering his fifth season with the Jaguars, said while it's true that the Jaguars have a high-profile, early-drafted rookie quarterback, that doesn't necessarily bring with it the necessity to force an issue or to rush a young player into early playing time.
"(Jaguars Head) Coach (Jack Del RIo) has taken the lead on that," Koetter said recently. "He's really done a good job, whether it would have been in OTAs (organized team activities), or in training camp, where we're going to look to balance the reps. That helps define it for the quarterbacks."
What Koetter said that means is this:
David Garrard, who Del Rio and Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith have said will be the starter, will get the majority of the repetitions during training camp, with Blaine Gabbert – the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft – taking slightly fewer and veteran backup Luke McCown getting slightly fewer than Gabbert.
Koetter said recently it will break down to Garrard getting about 40 percent of the practice reps, with Gabbert getting about 30 percent and McCown getting about 20 percent.
"It's like 42, 33 and 20 something," Koetter said. "What it does is create a situation where Blaine will be learning the offense as if he's the (No.) 2. Luke will technically be the three, but competing to be as high as he can go. It forces Blaine to come along without putting pressure on him to come in and be the starter."
Because of the ongoing NFL lockout, the time Gabbert – who played collegiately at the University of Missouri – would have had to develop, learn the offense and interact with teammates and coaches in a productive environment has been drastically reduced. Gabbert met with Koetter and Jaguars quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard the day after he was drafted, and he also received a playbook while at the facility that day, but aside from that, his work has been limited to practices with Jaguars players and without coaches.
The longer the lockout lasts, Koetter said, the more difficult Gabbert's task.
"There's so much to know," Koetter said, adding that the planned breakdown in practice repetitions "will force there to be competition.
"Now, Blaine may play up or down from that number (of repetitions)" Koetter added. "We'll see how it goes from there. Same with David. Same with Luke. . . . Coach has structured the reps as such that Blaine's not going to be sitting there, just sitting on his helmet.
"He's going to be getting reps and he's going to be the guy with the pressure on him to catch up. Luke and Dave know what's going on. I'm sure those guys have been studying."
Koetter said while much of the off-season speculation from observers has focused on how much Gabbert may or may not play as a rookie, there are positives in having a veteran quarterback such as Garrard, who has started the last four seasons.
"Dave can come right in and be ready to go relatively quickly," Koetter said. "Some other teams draft a guy in the first round, they're probably counting on that guy coming in and being the starter. In our case, that guy does not have to be the starter and in this kind of a year, we have enough weapons on offense we can be fine with Dave at quarterback.
"If Blaine is capable of coming in and getting past Dave in Year One, it looks to me like the Jaguars win. We're all winners. But I think the likelihood of that, the longer this goes, is tough, and we don't have to have it happen."
Koetter said in terms of specifics on the offensive staff, there has been and will continue to be an adjustment and adaptation process at the quarterback coach position, with Sheppard entering his first season in Jacksonville.
Sheppard replaced quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, who left early in the off-season for a similar position with the Carolina Panthers. Koetter said he expects Sheppard's approach to be a positive for Garrard and Gabbert.
Koetter also said because he scouted Gabbert extensively before the draft he hasn't watched a tremendous amount of college tape of him since late April.
"I had already watched a lot," Koetter said. "I really haven't gone back. He's a Jaguar now, and I had watched two years of tape on him going in. At this point, that really doesn't matter, because their offense is so different than what we're going to be doing.
"We learned what we needed to learn about him from our interviews. He's going to make an easy transition from what they did at Missouri to an NFL-type offense. He's going to get the reps."
Koetter said while Gabbert has been working with teammates, and while he has access to the playbook, not having an off-season with interaction with coaches could hurt.
"We met with him for two or three hours that one day, but when you can't ask questions or have interaction, that's tough," Koetter said, adding, "Quarterback school and OTAs (organized team activities) would help a guy like that so much – just time in the building, being able to ask questions, to have interaction.
"It's learning a new language. The plays, he'll get them. It's just being able to transfer from the language he has been used to speaking to the language he's going to use now – and being able to do it with confidence so you're reacting whether than thinking . . .
"There's nothing we can do about it. I try not to worry about stuff I can't control. Blaine's going to be here at some point and we're going to get him up and running, but we feel great about Dave and we feel real good about Luke."