Now that Jack Del Rio’s gone, it’s worth thinking about how the Jaguars are going to look in 2012.
My first question is one that any prospective head coach will have: Must Blaine Gabbert remain the “quarterback of the future” for this team?
It’s hard to imagine that keeping Gabbert as the starter will be a prerequisite of the job. Only true franchise quarterbacks keep their gigs without competition when there is a big shakeup with the coaching staff or front office.
G.M. Gene Smith drafted Gabbert and will reportedly stick around in Jacksonville. But he shouldn’t force Gabbert on his next hire.
Fans won’t want to “give up” on the No. 10 overall pick after one year, but taking a quarterback that high is no longer the financial investment it used to be. The next Jaguars coach will have Gabbert as an option at quarterback, but he shouldn’t be the only option.
Gabbert’s play this year raises serious questions whether he’ll ever be a quality starter. He was put in a difficult situation this season, but you can separate him out from that.
It’s hard to teach pocket presence at the NFL level. And it’s hard to remember a successful quarterback with worse pocket presence and accuracy than Gabbert at any point in his career. Gabbert is the opposite of poised.
These aren’t just the usual rookie struggles. Christian Ponder has had difficulties, but he makes a handful of plays each game that show he could be a quality player. Gabbert hasn’t done that.
Teams that take the wrong quarterback high in the draft usually make two mistakes. They draft the wrong guy, and then they can’t admit the mistake for 3-4 years. (Think JaMarcus Russell, J.P. Losman, Kyle Boller.)
A new coach in Jacksonville shouldn’t be tied to Gabbert. He should be allowed to bring in who he wants at quarterback.
If Gabbert improves and earns a starting job next year through competition, consider that a pleasant surprise.