Tag:Blaine Gabbert
Posted on: July 18, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 5:32 pm
 

GM Smith: Re-signing current Jags '1st priority'

Posted by Will Brinson

The Jacksonville Jaguars are an interesting team to watch as we emerge from the lockout cocoon and head (hopefully) to the 2011 season. They've got a rookie quarterback who might or might not play and a head coach who might or might not be on the hot seat.

In other words, the future, and measuring short- versus long-term goals is kind of up the air. So it'll be interesting to see how they handle free agency. According GM Gene Smith, getting their "own players" will take precedent. “Our own players will always be our first priority,” Smith said, per Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. “I’ve said this before that it is our objective to get a long-term deal done with Marcedes.”

Obviously, Smith's referring to tight end Marcedes Lewis, who was franchise tagged near the end of February. Less obvious is how the situation with Lewis will play out -- there's been some chatter that Lewis will hold out, based on his decision to remain in Los Angeles "until [his] deal is done."

He's also commented that he just wants "to be treated fair."

“All I can do is be optimistic about it,” Lewis told Ganguli in a recent phone interview. “I think both sides have an idea of where we want to go. I’m just going to continue to handle my side and let them take care of that. I’m hoping we can get it done and get me in camp.”

Lewis' situation is fascinating because the Jaguars have already gotten rid of one-time breakout wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and are left with Mike Thomas shoring up their No. 1 receiver spot.

Making Lewis happy and getting him into camp on time is something that appears absolutely essential for Smith if he wants to ensure that the Jaguars have enough offensive potency to keep with the rest of the AFC South, especially if they're not planning on trolling for free agents between now and the start of the season.

After all, if David Garrard doesn't have any weapons, the Jags might struggle early and Blaine Gabbert might find himself under center sooner than anyone expects. Not having a safety net at tight end for their rookie is probably something the Jacksonville front office would like to avoid.

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Posted on: June 26, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 11:43 am
 

Del Rio doesn't want Gabbert to play in 2011

Posted by Will Brinson

The Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback situation is one of the most obvious in the NFL, because Blaine Gabbert is the locked-out rookie and David Garrard is the overpaid veteran. There's a clear-cut hierarchy for playing time, especially as it relates to development, even if Garrard says he's "open" to competition

And yet, it might be one of the most intruiging situations in the league.

That's because Jack Del Rio's job hangs in the balance based on whether or not the Jaguars make the playoffs, which is based on whether or not Garrard can improve on his performance from the past few years.

If he can't, Gabbert could eventually see playing time. But Del Rio doesn't want that to happen.

"In a perfect world, I'd like to see him not have to play this year in terms of having time to develop," Del Rio told Dan Pompei of the National Football Post. "That doesn’t mean I would keep him on the bench if I thought he was the best option to win. Ideally he’s able to get that time to develop and really learn the game at this level. I'd love to see Garrard have a nice season, lead us into a playoff position, and then see if we can get hot.

"Things don't always happen the way you have them planned though."

No they don't. Especially when your schedule features the Jets, the Saints, the Steelers, the Ravens, the Titans and the Texans before the bye. (Even the easiest game on the schedule, Week 4 against the Panthers, is on the road and features a decent defense.)

That's not an easy stretch of games for any quarterback to play against, and it's entirely possible/likely that Garrard struggles through the first half of the season.

If he does, don't be surprised to see Gene Smith, Wayne Weaver and plenty of fans curious to see what the future of the franchise -- Gabbert -- actually looks like on the field.

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Posted on: June 9, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 10:42 am
 

Vikings have faith in Ponder but won't rush him

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Yesterday we mentioned that free agent Matt Hasselbeck might be a possible stopgap in Tennessee should Seattle choose not to re-sign him. Hasselbeck mentored rookie Titans quarterback Jack Locker when Locker was at the University of Washington, and Hasselback has ties to the Titans front office.

Plus, he's 35. Any stint in Tennessee would be a short one. Ideally, Hasselback would bridge the gap between broken dreams (Vince Young) and renewed hope (Locker), a gig Kerry Collins doesn't sound all that interested in.

We bring this up because Locker isn't the only rookie quarterback who could begin the season under center. First-overall pick Cam Newton seems a long shot to win a starting job out of training camp, but it's too early to rule out the Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert and the Vikings' Christian Ponder.

Players and coaches are forbidden from talking to each other during the lockout, but the lockout is giving Minnesota offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave plenty of time to plan for the upcoming season.

First up: keep it simple. Which means that whoever's the QB, he'll have to be proficient at taking the snap, pivoting, and handing the ball to No. 28. And there will be the occasional throw -- probably off rollouts and bootlegs -- to, you know, keep defenses honest.

"We'll major in giving the ball to Adrian (Peterson), and we'll need a quarterback that can keep defenses honest and can have a little bit of movement to himself," Musgrave, who once was a backup quarterback with Dallas, San Francisco and Denver, told the Star Tribune's Judd Zulag. "Not just be a statue back there because with the pieces that are in place we won't be just a drop-back, stay-in-the-pocket type team. We're going to really attack the defense on the edges both with Adrian and also our quarterback."

We have yet to hear from Titans coaches about their plans for Locker, but running back Chris Johnson was under the impression Monday that it was Locker's job to lose. "Everybody knows [Jake's] going to be the starting quarterback so he needs to be ready come Game 1," he said.

Musgrave isn't quite ready to commit to Ponder ... yet.

"…[I]t's hard to speculate at this stage. We just don't know. There are so many contingency plans because there are so many unknowns.

"I do know this," Musgrave added. "I know that Christian has a broad-based background on offensive football from Florida State, and he'll be able to jump in there and keep his head above water. We'll hope to do a good job and enable him to maintain his confidence and develop and get comfortable at the same time."

In the weeks and months leading up to the draft, the knock against Locker was that he struggled with accuracy. That's a huge problem in the NFL, where the defensive backs get faster and the windows get smaller. For Ponder, there were concerns about his ability to stay healthy and his arm strength. But he was the most consistent player at the Senior Bowl in January, and looked even better at the February combine. By late April, draft experts were saying things like, "Perhaps no quarterback in this draft class has a better command of the game's subtleties."

That is great news for a franchise that can focus on other things this summer than Brett Favre's annual un-retirement tour.

Musgrave and Ponder spent a few hours talking football when the lockout was briefly lifted in late April. It was enough time for Ponder to get a playbook, and later pass on what he learned to teammates at workouts he organized last week in Bradenton, Fla.
Vikes Offseason

Even in a normal offseason, it would be difficult for a rookie quarterback to win a starting job. We're currently 86 days into the lockout with no end in sight. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was noncommittal on whether the team would sign a veteran QB, although some fans think Donovan McNabb would be the perfect candidate (we disagree).

But even if Ponder is forced into duty it doesn't mean Minnesota's season is doomed; Musgrave came from Atlanta where he played a big role in Matt Ryan's development. The Falcons were 19-29 in the three years before Ryan arrived in 2008. They're 31-12 in the three years since, including two 11-plus win seasons. Ideally, rookie quarterbacks learn by watching, but surround them with a stout defense and playmakers at the skill positions (check and check, in Minnesota's case) and the results will occasionally surprise you.

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.27.11: Black bears beware!



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • If there is no new labor deal by July 15, the Bengals won’t hold their training camp in Georgetown, Ky. – the club’s regular preseason spot. Which means no more daily jaunts to the local Ruby Tuesday for players and scribes (to be fair, it IS a 30-second walk from the Fairfield Inn).
  • How many people have been tending to the gravesite for legendary coach Vince Lombardi for the past 25 years? Apparently, more than one. And they didn’t know about each other.

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Posted on: May 22, 2011 5:15 pm
 

Garrard: 'I am always open to competition'

Posted by Will Brinson

One of the things that hasn't really been talked enough is how the Jaguars drafting Blaine Gabbert affects David Garrard. (The Jags, unsurprisingly, have tried to downplay the idea of any controversy.)

That's probably because the effect is obvious: Garrard is as good as gone at some point in the future. But what about 2011? Well, it seems like Garrard's handling the whole thing well, and sounds optimistic about the possibility of competition.

"I just tell them I am always open to competition," Garrard said, per Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. "I think competition's healthy. You never shy away from competition. That's just sports."

Also "just sports" -- when the team that paid you a lot of money and seemed to regret it decides to trade up and draft one of the top-two prospects available, there's a good chance that your options for competition over the long haul are pretty limited.

Such is the case with Garrard, who, by the way, is already 33. (I know, right?)

Gabbert stepping in and playing right away seems like a mistake, if only because the Jaguars are better served letting Garrard play his deal out and having Gabbert learn on the bench.

But don't forget that Jack Del Rio is in a bit of a tricky spot with the 2011 season -- he could see his job on the line/be out the door if the Jaguars don't make the playoffs.

Unless of course, he had a great excuse like "we had to play with a rookie quarterback" ... or something along those lines.

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Posted on: May 21, 2011 6:46 pm
Edited on: May 21, 2011 7:02 pm
 

Rookies are inherently suffering irreparable harm

Posted by Will Brinson

The biggest issue facing the Court of Appeals when they make their ruling on the June 3rd hearing -- at least in my opinion -- is whether or not the 8th Circuit believes the NFLPA actually dissolved.

But there's another tremendous issue that lingers with regard to the current stay of the injunction of the lockout: which party is suffering irreparable harm?

And while reading my colleague Clark Judge's excellent piece on "first-year phenoms" surprising in 2011, something hit me: the damage being done to younger players, courtesy of the current lockout, is absolutely irreparable.

Actually, it was quote from Brian Billick -- ironically, a part-time employee of the NFL itself -- that set it off for me (emphasis mine).

"Let's say they get no OTAs," said Billick. "And let's say we get a full training camp. Then I cut the odds down by at least 50 percent in terms of a quarterback's ability to come in and be a starter. And with every week into training camp we lose I think we knock it down 25 percent."

Those are BIG numbers, people -- imagine if you were a commission-based salesman and someone took away a quarter of your territory. Or even worse, half -- how much would that impact your ability to succeed in your job for the given a year?

Doing any sort of quantitatively accurate math on exactly how much damage would be done to say, someone like Cam Newton, is pretty difficult, simply because we don't know how good he'll be in 2010 and beyond. But here's the follow-up quote from Billick that's even more telling.

"You can't be overly optimistic with what you think you can get done with rookie quarterbacks -- which means a year from now I don't know that we'll know anything more about Cam Newton than we do this year," Billick said.

Now, there's plenty of room for clarification to that quote, but to me, it seems like a player in Cam Newton's situation is having somewhere between 50 and 100 percent of his season killed off by the lockout, depending on how long it goes on.

And there's an argument out there that Newton is still going to get paid (well) and still develop as a quarterback. But here's the counterargument: when he loses somewhere between a half- and full year of development as a result of the lockout, he loses an impossible-to-calculate digit in terms of financial gain from a new contract.

He loses a year of production and/or learning in the prime of his life. He loses, even if you want to be conservative with the average number of years that a first-round quarterback plays, one-tenth of his career.

And there are -- if you want to count Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert -- at least six Newtons out there who are being irreparably damaged.

This holds true for unsigned free agents too. And the players haven't shied away from making that point to the courts. The problem is, the Appeals Court doesn't seem that interested in the argument that a bunch of agents and lawyers are making with respect to the livelihood of a young football player in the NFL.

What they need to be doing is checking with the people who know better than anyone how much a year of learning can damage the career of a rookie in the NFL: the defendants.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:18 am
 

Jags predictably downplay QB controversy

Posted by Andy Benoit

Jack Del Rio said everything you’d expect him to say shortly after his team traded up to draft Blaine Gabbert Thursday night. “Our intention is to have David (Garrard) as our quarterback and have Blaine come in and push David,” he told a group of reporters that included Vito Stellino of the Florida Times Union.

Jags GM Gene Smith, “David is our quarterback. We’ve got Luke McCown behind him. He’s a proven starter."
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Smith’s sentiments about McCown are just plain wrong. There’s a difference between being a proven starter and being a guy who has filled in under center a time or two. And Garrard is not Smith’s quarterback; Garrard is the guy that the previous GM hitched his wagon to before getting fired.

So yes, it’s a quarterback controversy in Jacksonville. But really, the Jags had a controversy beforehand. After all, they had to have realized at some point last season that Garrard isn’t their long-term guy. The difference now is there is a new quarterback in town who makes the controversy an actual competition.

“We’ll have fun. C’mon. That’s part of the deal,’’ Del Rio said. “We all know you guys are going to have fun with it. ... We’ll keep the focus on the team. We have two good young men who are going to be battling. They’re the right kind of guys. Very unselfish.’’

Garrard should understand how this all works. Remember, he’s the guy who beat out former No. 7 overall pick Byron Leftwich.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:20 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 3:19 am
 

How do rich get richer? The poor reach for QB's

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- You wanna know how the rich keep getting richer? The poor keep reaching for quarterbacks, that's how.

In one of the strangest drags in recent history, four potentially disastrous quarterbacks went in the top-15 picks, as Cam Newton (1), Jake Locker (8), Blaine Gabbert (10) and Christian Ponder (12) were all of the board before we got halfway through the first round.


The fact that quarterbacks went early isn't shocking, because right now the league is quarterback-needy as hell. Lots of people projected a pile of signal-callers coming off respective big boards throughout the first round.

But by pulling trigger on some questionable quarterbacks so early in the draft, a bunch of teams -- who were drafting early for a reason -- ended up allowing a ton of top tier talent to fall down to a bunch of teams who were drafting -- you guessed it -- late for a reason.

The Colts (Anthony Castonzo), the Saints (Cameron Jordan and then Mark Ingram), the Giants (Prince Amukamara) and a number of other teams ended up hitting home runs with their first-round picks because teams who needed quarterbacks couldn't, for lack of a better phrase, keep it in their pants.

Look, the trio of Gabbert/Ponder/Locker could end up working out for these teams. Ponder's NFL-ready and could be an immediate benefit for the Vikings, while Gabbert and Locker have veterans -- David Garrard and Kerry Collins, respectively -- in front of them and will get a year or two to learn and get prepped to take over.

They could certainly end up being successful quarterbacks in the NFL, but they could also certainly be busts.

But the reason why they went so early isn't because they're guaranteed to be big-time successes in the NFL. They went early because 1) teams were limited in maneuvering because of the labor situation and, more importantly, 2) failed to recognize that in this draft, depth was present at positions that are not named quarterback.

There were certainly "lots of quarterbacks" but that has nothing to do with there being "significant depth at the position."

It's something that you expect general managers and the people who run teams to recognize. But for whatever reason, in this draft, they didn't.

Which is why we shouldn't be too shocked if we see a similar draft order in the first round of 2012 as we saw on Thursday night.

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