Jacksonville Jaguars fans didn’t know what they had until it was gone.
Blaine Gabbert is the least-hyped up-and-coming quarterback in the NFL, but his injury should change that. As soon as the second-year passer exited Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville’s league-worst offensive attack became, somehow, someway, even less intimidating. That before-and-after-Gabbert view of its offense shows just how valuable the QB is.
Prior to his departure, Gabbert, whose status according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com has yet to be evaluated, had completed eight of 12 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. He had the worst offense in the league firing on all cylinders as the Jaguars built a 17-3 second-quarter lead.
When Gabbert’s shoulder began to bother him, though, Chad Henne emerged from the sideline and the Jags’ efficiency vanished. Henne gave fans a refresher as to why the Miami Dolphins ridded themselves of him. He finished the evening with just 71 passing yards and a sub-50 completion percentage.
As amazing as Gabbert looked compared to Henne, fans should’ve seen this coming.
Sure, Gabbert’s stat line isn’t an impressive one. He has a 55.7 percent completion percentage, a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 77.1 passer rating. But after Jacksonville looked so lost without him, it’s safe to say his numbers deserve a nice, fat asterisk next to them.
First off, he just turned 23 years old. The media is extremely inconsistent with who it labels as “raw and promising” vs. “unpolished and pitiful”. For whatever reason, Gabbert has been unfairly thrown into the latter category.
And combine his inexperience with his mediocre supporting cast, and those so-so numbers Gabbert records each Sunday begin to look a bit more impressive.
Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts have 28 career receptions combined. Marcedes Lewis, Laurent Robinson and Mike Thomas are one-year wonders. Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t been the same since his holdout, and Rashad Jennings is averaging 2.6 yards a pop this season.
If and when Gabbert returns, there’s bound to be hiccups. But ignore them and appreciate his growth because he’s more valuable than once believed.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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