Blaine Gabbert: Starting Rookie Now Will Kick Start Jaguars' Rebuilding Effort

Joseph HealyCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 01:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts a pass during a game against the St. Louis Rams at EverBank Field on September 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

After being drafted by the Jaguars in this most recent draft, Blaine Gabbert seemed like a perfect candidate to sit for a year or more before hitting the field. The Jags already had David Garrard on the roster, and while he's no Tom Brady, he has been a pretty solid signal-caller for the most part. The Jaguars also weren't going to contend anytime soon, even though they made a surprise run to challenge for the postseason last year. There was no reason to throw Gabbert out there to get dominated.

Now, things have changed.

David Garrard was released before the season even started. Luke McCown was given the starting nod right after Garrard's release, but he proved to be, well, the same Luke McCown that he has always been. The Jaguars were left with little choice but to start Gabbert. It would be hard not to give the team a better chance to win than McCown did.

Their prospects for contending have also changed.

I'm not sure that they will challenge the Texans for the AFC South this season, but now that the future of the Colts and, more specifically, Peyton Manning, is in question, it's not hard to imagine a scenario where the Jaguars will be able to compete in the next couple of years.

It's very important that the Jaguars have the proper amount of patience with Gabbert. Because Gabbert is tall, has a strong arm and played in a very successful program in college, it might seem that he is a very NFL-ready quarterback.

I'm not so sure though. He rarely took snaps under center in college, and the offense he ran at Missouri was based on hitting open receivers that found space in the open field rather than making accurate throws on crisp receiver routes, which is the case in most NFL offenses.

The 2011 season will be a great trial run for Gabbert. He can work out most of the kinks and really put himself in a position to be successful in 2012. With a good offseason and draft, the Jaguars might be ready to compete by then.