Posted by Will Brinson
Wednesday, Jack Del Rio finally came to the realization that everyone else had before the 2011 season began: his needs to start Blaine Gabbert this season.
Del Rio should have made this move as soon as he made the decision to cut David Garrard a week before the season began.
Really, the only acceptable excuse for not starting Gabbert is if Del Rio believed that Luke McCown could be a starting quarterback for a team in the playoff hunt.
It seemed like a bad idea at the time, and it didn't seem brilliant even after a Week 1 win. It seemed like a worse idea two interceptions in to his debacle against the Jets and by the time he finally brought Gabbert in, it was patently obvious that McCown and his 1.8 quarterback rating weren't dragging this team to a division title.
Gabbert might not either. He is, after all, a rookie. But Gabbert offers the most upside. We knew what Garrard could do on the field. It wasn't that impressive, the now-looking-like-a fluke 2007 season aside. And we've certainly seen McCown's limitations on full display for Jacksonville. He's a decent backup quarterback and could be the right starter in the right situation. Like say, if he were given a full offseason to prepare with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
Gabbert's more of an unknown quantity right now, but is that necessarily bad? I don't think so -- we know enough about Gabbert that he's the best option for the Jags right now. We know that it looks like he can at least compete right now. We know that he's got talent. We know he has more upside than Garrard and McCown. And we know that the Jaguars paid a pretty hefty price to make him the franchise's quarterback of the future.
It's probably not helping Del Rio that right now there are two rookies -- Cam Newton and Andy Dalton -- who've managed to get their respective teams off to starts that are, arguably, better than Jacksonville's.
Gene Smith has to be wondering if Gabbert can do the same. Del Rio should be wondering if Gabbert performing well can help extend the life of his contract another season in Jacksonville.
We'll get the answers to these questions soon enough. The biggest mystery to me is what took so long?
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