AFC South All-22 Review: Blaine Gabbert's Second Half Against Packers

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

Gabbert has a receiver in the cross-hairs.
Gabbert has a receiver in the cross-hairs.Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Amidst the hoopla over Blaine Gabbert's first career 300-yard passing game, many lost sight that the Jaguars only scored 15 points in the game.

Most of his struggles came in the second half of the game as the Jaguars piled up three-and-outs and were unable to close the gap on the scuffling Green Bay Packers.

Vince Verhi of the Football Outsiders had an interesting note in his Quick Reads column this week about Gabbert's play:

First half: 14-of-25 for 195 yards with 10 first downs, including a touchdown. Second half: 13-of-24 for 108 yards and four first downs, with a sack-fumble.

We know that we can discount the final four incomplete passes from Gabbert's day, as the game was functionally over. That means he was 13-of-20 on passes that mattered. That's a pretty completion rate of 65 percent, but a horrendous YPA mark of 5.4.

Why did Gabbert struggle? What changed in the second half of the game?

Drive One: Three and Out

Gabbert overthrows Cecil Shorts on the first play. A look at the routes makes you wonder why he released the ball at all.

The safety is shading to Shorts' side. Gabbert has single coverage on the left, not that the receiver is any more open than Shorts, but at least there's no safety.

This is a bad read, and Gabbert does an inadequate job looking off the safety.

On the next drive, there's a play action fake, but the Packers blitz. By the time Gabbert turns around, there's rusher on top of him. He fumbles, but recovers the ball.

Third down is a give-up play to get more yards for the rush team.

Drive Two: Three and Out

After two short runs, Gabbert passes on 3rd-and-7.

The Jaguars run three men in a bunch formation to the right. Mike Thomas emerges as the open man on the play, but Gabbert short-arms the throw, putting it at his feet.

It's a three-yard completion, but a poor throw. An accurate ball where Thomas can catch it on the run gives him a chance to pick up the first down.

The play design is rather weak, but it might have worked if Gabbert was on the money.

Drive Three: Three and Out

Gabbert fires wide of Justin Blackmon on first down. There's no excuse for missing a wide receiver by several feet.

After a three-yard run, Gabbert again misfired on third down, as the Jaguars send only two men into the pattern. This play should be burned and never run again. Gabbert threw out of bounds to avoid a sack, but there was no one open.

This was not his fault.

Drive Four: Field Goal

Gabbert opens his first drive of the fourth quarter with two short passes to Rashad Jennings and Thomas.

He fails to hit Jennings in rhythm, forcing him to stop before catching the ball. It's unclear whose fault this is.

On second down, the checks down to Thomas, despite having an equally open receiver deep.

He atones for this mistake by making a fantastic third-down play to Jalen Parmele. That started a string of solid throws, including a nice pass to Blackmon that was reversed on replay and a deep ball to Shorts.

After the throw to Shorts set the Jaguars up with a first down inside the 20, Gabbert's problems re-emerged.

On second down, he was the victim of another awful play design that left him no open receivers. It looked like the Jaguars were attempting to set up a screen, but not everyone was on the same page.

On third down, Gabbert looks off his initial receiver and immediately throws a check down for a loss of one yard. He was under no rush, and gave up on the play too soon.

The resulting field goal cut the Packers lead to six.

Drive Five: Turnover on Downs

Two short passes with long runs to Jennings moved the Jaguars out to midfield before the Jaguars' attempt to take the lead with five minutes to play came unraveled.

Gabbert's next four passes gained just six yards, and the Packers took over on downs.

First, he has a miscommunication with Blackmon. It's difficult to know who's to blame, though many fans think Blackmon failed to complete his route. It's equally possible the ball was just wildly off-target.

On second down, Gabbert simply makes a bad throw, well over Blackmon's head.

After a short completion to Blackmon, the fourth-down attempt ended as Blackmon collided with two Packers on what looked to be a poorly designed pick-play.

This was bad luck for the Jaguars, as the officials could have called illegal contact. The play bore similarity to a call in 2008 in Indianapolis that resulted in a key Jaguars first down late in that contest.

It's not fair to place all the blame for the loss on Gabbert. There were mistakes by other players: bad plays and bad luck. It is fair to say that Gabbert did not play well enough for the Jaguars to win, especially in the second half when the game was there for the taking.

In all, if the Green Bay game represents the best of what Gabbert has to offer, it's not nearly enough.

The best that can be said for his play was that it was inconsistent. That's why the team only scored 15 points, despite his passing yardage.

The outstanding writer for John Oehser said that it's fair to view Gabbert as if he were still a rookie. While that's debatable, even if true, Gabbert is still well behind the 2012 draft class all of whom are meeting with far more success.

If the 2012 quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill) were redrafted with Gabbert included, he would certainly be picked last of the group, even with his advanced experience.

His mechanical limitations are still obvious, and he's still not making advanced decisions. While he did look good on a few long balls, his overall game-management skills and ability to make accurate throws are lacking.

While there's still time for Gabbert to grow in 2012, he's still going to have to show significant improvement before he can be considered a viable NFL starter.


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