Blaine Gabbert: Just How Bad Has the Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Been?

Benjamin Allbright@@AllbrightNFLContributor IOctober 9, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 08:   Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars is sacked by  Dontari Poe #92 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at EverBank Field on September 8, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

For as embarrassingly terrible as Tim Tebow was as an NFL quarterback, the team around him managed to find ways to win games, despite his play.

That is likely why some fans still erroneously cling to the belief that Tebow was, somehow, a "winner" and think he could swoop in and save the Jacksonville Jaguars from the depths of futility the team has suffered through the last few years.

Tebow has a rather vocal, if not very populous, contingent of fans who will spin, obfuscate or outright butcher the scientific discipline of statistics in an effort to bolster their hyperbolic claims about the winning ability ostensibly possessed in his theoretically franchise-healing hands.

It's easy to see why Jacksonville Jaguars fans would buy into the notion; desperation and hope are powerful drugs, which give the user a grass-is-greener high, all innuendo unintended.

The notion is made even more palatable in the frantic minds of some by the horrendous quarterback play of current Jacksonville starter Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert was drafted 10th overall, by the Jaguars, in the 2011 NFL draft, traded up for, in fact.  

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 6: Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars passes in a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 6, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas/Getty Images

Since then, however, Gabbert has led the Jaguars on a ride that is more "Tower of Terror" free-fall than roller-coaster. Jacksonville has managed a mere five wins in Gabbert’s 28 starts, and two of those victories came against a post-Peyton Manning, pre-Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts team that set its own marks for sub-mediocrity.  

To further contextualize the staggering futility the Jacksonville franchise has endured under Gabbert's stewardship, the Jaguars have won only a single game with Gabbert as the starter, since his 2011 rookie campaign.

Gabbert has his own apologists to be sure. There are those who claimed he never had the weapons around him to enable him to excel, and those who have poured over various analytic measurements in attempts to justify his play. In the end, however, the on-field results have been the same. 

Over the past two years, the Jaguars have done everything in their power to put Gabbert in a position to succeed.

They've surrounded him with promising skill position players in the draft like wide receivers Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders. They bolstered their line by selecting offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the second overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. They've attempted to keep his confidence up with public words of support from the coaches and front office.

How has all of that paid off?

Gabbert currently holds the low water mark for passer rating in the NFL among quarterbacks who qualify at 36.0, he has the second-lowest completion percentage in the league at 48.8 percent only to the recently benched, then-released Josh Freeman.

He also has the lowest average yards per attempt and an absurd 1-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Is it time to give up on Gabbert yet? I don't think so. Despite my rather low ranking of him coming out of college relative to popular opinion, and I maintain the position that he isn't starting NFL quarterback material, Gabbert is still only 23 years old.

He was missing, arguably, his best receiver, Justin Blackmon, who was suspended for the first four games of the season, he's playing with a running back in Maurice Jones-Drew, who looks a shell of his former self in returning from injury, and he's playing behind a line whose best pass-blocking technique seems to be attempting to de-pants the opponent.

Jacksonville's offensive line has been so bad, it's lived down to the first half of its position unit's name.

Since the start of the season, starting right tackle Luke Joeckel has suffered a high ankle sprain and been placed on Jacksonville's Injured Reserve list, and starting left tackle Eugene Monroe was unceremoniously traded to the Baltimore Ravens for draft picks.

Some are matters of circumstance; others are glaring indications that the franchise seeks to go in another direction with a rebuild.

So with the Jaguars sending such a strong signal that they're looking to move on from Gabbert after the season, why continue to play him now? To put it simply, he gives them the best chance to win, at least in terms of possible outcomes.

If Gabbert continues to play poorly, it places Jacksonville in prime position in the NFL draft next spring. If the light comes on and he suddenly gets it, the Jaguars have the option of sticking with him or possibly trading him for draft picks to a team that sees his arm strength and other attributes, thinking they can coach him to better success than the Jaguars have thus far.  

Both are scenarios you don't get from starting backup quarterback Chad Henne or by signing the woefully inept Tebow.

So just how bad has Gabbert been this season? Bad enough that he needs to continue to be the Jaguars starting quarterback for the long-term betterment of himself and the Jaguars—no matter the on-field result.