Ryan Tannehill & Blaine Gabbert: Comparing Their Week 1 NFL Starts

John RozumCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2012

Sep 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) looks to pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at the Metrodome. Vikings win 26-23. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Polar opposites are how one can describe the starts of Ryan Tannehill and Blaine Gabbert in Week 1.

Then again, the same can be said regarding the help each quarterback got from the running game and the opposing defense they faced.

Of course Maurice Jones-Drew is better than Reggie Bush, and the Minnesota Vikings aren't nearly as stellar as the Houston Texans. Still, opportunities to make plays occur for everyone in every game.

Here, we look at Tannehill and Gabbert's performances that kicked off the 2012 season.


Ryan Tannehill

The Houston Texans were in his face quite often and those in coverage simply blanketed every receiver on any route.

Ryan Tannehill was sacked three times, threw three interceptions and the Texans defended a total of eight passes. All together, Miami's No. 8 overall selection went 20-of-36 for 219 yards and 30 percent of his completions (six) went to running back Reggie Bush.

So when not pressured, Tannehill either dumped it off to Bush at the checkdown or threw the ball away in most cases. Not to mention he fumbled once as well.

His first pick came from staring down receiver Legedu Naanee before Jonathan Joseph simply jumped the slant route. Tannehill's next two came from not putting enough trajectory on the ball and it was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

For him being 6'4", Tannehill struggled in keeping the ball up. His mechanics and release looked solid, but it's all about the accuracy to make the throw in the end. So, anticipate Miami trying to get him out of the pocket more often, because that utilizes Tannehill's mobility and arm strength.

Plus, it sets up for the backside draw, flood routes and takes pressure off the offensive line. The Dolphins don't protect consistently enough for Tannehill to sit in the pocket, therefore, getting him on the move will widen defenses and reduce his number of batted passes.


Blaine Gabbert

After struggling quite a bit as a rookie, Blaine Gabbert really developed this preseason and he kept that rolling into Week 1 of 2012.

Finishing 23-of-39 for 260 yards and two touchdowns, Gabbert didn't throw a pick and was sacked just twice. Even more impressively, his running backs accounted for only four receptions so he was darting the rock downfield rather consistently.

Four different receiving targets caught three-plus passes and Jacksonville's 23 points was a greater score than the Jaguars put up in 15 different games last season. Wow.

Against the Vikings, Gabbert displayed impressive poise in the pocket and recognized man coverage quite often. Facing zone coverage, he shows the ability to look off a linebacker and connect with his tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Tossing the rock outside is where Gabbert's strong arm has favored him. It was his only positive from 2011 and getting the ball from the pocket to Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts' outside shoulders was the key to avoiding interceptions and/or batted passes.

Unlike Tannehill, Jacksonville needs to keep Gabbert in the pocket and utilize the running game for play-action. Mike Mularkey has proven to be a great quarterback developer for Gabbert, and this should come as no surprise since he was Atlanta's offensive coordinator when Matt Ryan was a rookie.


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