Although it was the preseason and there can't be that much taken from the games, there's no denying that Gabbert has taken steps forward in his progression of being a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.
Let's take an in-depth look at specific things that Gabbert has shown improvement on during the first two games of the preseason.
Having poise in the pocket
One of the big knocks on Gabbert during his rookie season was that he showed very little to no poise inside of the pocket. Gabbert often looked jumpy and uncomfortable standing in the pocket, which contributed to a lot of bad reads and inaccurate throws.
This was not a product of a bad offensive line. This was the same offensive line that blocked for the league's leading rusher last season. This was a product of a rookie simply not being used to the speed of the NFL game. For some quarterbacks, the adjustment is made quicker. For Gabbert, it took a little more time.
Against the Saints Friday night, Gabbert stood tall in the pocket. With him feeling more comfortable in the pocket, he stepped into his throws and they came out crisper and with better timing.
Having command of the offense
This can be contributed to a couple of different factors, but Gabbert seemed to have a very good command of the offense against the Saints—a better command than what he showcased as a rookie.
Whether it was him being a rookie or the playbook itself, Gabbert looked as if he had a football IQ of, well, a rookie. Although he is in a new system in his second year, he seems to have a better grasp of going through his progressions.
What that shows is that he knows where is receivers are on the field, which will increase his chances of making better decision with the football.
Gabbert having a better command of the offense can also be attributed to the play calling of head coach Mike Mularkey.
Mularkey has still shown the commitment to the run that former coach Jack Del Rio showed, but he still is able to keep the play calling balanced between run and pass.
This pays dividends for Gabbert, as it will give him more repetitions and more chances to learn the offense.
This has nothing to do with Gabbert himself, but it will has helped him so far this preseason and will continue to help him moving forward.
Gabbert had virtually no receiving options during his rookie season. Not having even an average receiving corps stunted his growth to a certain degree because it gave him little margin for error.
With Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon being added during the offseason, Gabbert now has options he can trust and he doesn't have to deliver that perfect throw.
Gabbert seemed to have created an immediate connection with Blackmon, as he connected with him four times for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Gabbert having weapons who can get open and make plays will do wonders for his progression moving forward.
What needs to happen moving forward
Again, all of this is happening during preseason games, which means they can almost be taken with a grain of salt. Remember the 2008 Lions? The team that went 0-16? Well, they went 4-0 during the preseason, which should give you glimpse of how much the preseason means in the long run.
None of this matters if Gabbert doesn't continue this improvement during the regular season.
Things will change then. The intensity will be ratcheted up. Right now, he doesn't have to deal with defensive coordinators developing a game plan to stop him. He will have to deal with that during the regular season.
Moving forward, how will Gabbert react to adversity? How will he react when the play doesn't unfold as it was planned?
These are the things that make quarterbacks great: turning lemons into lemonade.
It's easy to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball when everything goes according to plan, but what will he do when it doesn't?
He didn't show the ability to do so last season and will have to improve on that this season.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!