Chargers vs. Jaguars: 3 Rookies in the Spotlight on Monday Night Football
The San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars face off tonight in what will be a matchup of two teams headed in the wrong direction. The Chargers are 4-7 and have lost six in a row, while the Jaguars are 3-8 and will be playing their first game since their long-time head coach was fired.
San Diego's coach, Norv Turner, is also rumored to be on his way out the door, which means players on both sides of this one tonight will have to play as if their jobs depend on it. Because in many cases, they probably do.
When new coaches take over teams in the NFL, almost no one's job is guaranteed. Well tonight there are three rookies who need to prove they deserve their spots on the roster.
All three should have a big impact on tonight's contest.
Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
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Gabbert was the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft and has has a dismal rookie season. Recently fired head coach Jack Del Rio committed to the Missouri product early in the season and was not rewarded for his faith in the youngster.
Through 10 games Gabbert has completed 128 of 264 passes (48.5 percent) for 1,371 yards, with six touchdowns and six interceptions. His quarterback rating of 62.2 ranks dead last in the NFL among the 31 signal-callers who qualify.
While it's far too early to call him a bust, Gabbert's lack of accuracy and inability to throw the ball down the field (he's averaging a dismal 5.19 yards per attempt) have completely hindered Jacksonville's offense.
The Jaguars currently rank dead-last in the NFL in passing yardage, averaging just 131.3 yards per game.
Gabbert will be put under a microscope over the final few games of the season and if he doesn't show any kind of growth it's more than likely the Jags will sign a veteran this offseason to compete for the starting job.
Vincent Brown, Chargers
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Brown exploded three weeks ago on national television against the Oakland Raiders, grabbing five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, while also having another spectacular touchdown catch overturned by a questionable review.
The 82nd overall pick from the 2011 draft has developed rapidly and the Chargers management and players have raved about his ability all season. Now the San Diego State product is getting a chance to show what he can do.
Over the past four games Brown has 13 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown. With the team's No. 2 receiver Malcom Floyd scheduled to return tonight, there is a chance Brown may not see as many balls thrown his way. Still, he has the ability to impact the game and San Diego really likes what he brings to the table.
There is a really good chance that Brown will be a big part of what the Chargers do offensively moving forward, so expect him to be involved tonight and for the rest of the season.
Donald Butler, Chargers
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Butler is technically a rookie since he missed the entire 2010 season after injuring his Achilles tendon in August of last year. The Chargers traded up to take him in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft, so obviously they thought highly of him.
If he manages to stay healthy Butler has proven he can be a force for the Chargers' defense. In 11 games this season the inside linebacker has 70 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown and an interception.
While only 6'1" and 248 pounds, the Washington product plays much bigger than his size, is great at stuffing the run and just seems to be around the ball all the time.
As the Chargers are likely transitioning to new management with head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith rumored to be headed out the door, Butler will need to continue to prove himself week to week. If he does he will be a big part of San Diego's future on defense.