For Blaine Gabbert to make big strides in his second year, he needed three ingredients:
Better receiver play.
I think he’s getting the coaching. The protection is OK, because with offensive line injuries the team is game-planning to minimize threats, which takes away from other areas. Headlined by Justin Blackmon, the receivers are dropping way too many passes.
Sunday I wrote about baby steps being acceptable for Jacksonville.
But seeing this from Mike Mularkey out of his Monday news conference, it made me think about how the protection and receiver issues that hounded the team last year have not dissipated nearly enough.
“It will help not to drop balls. That helps. Don’t know what Blaine can do with that. I don’t know how much Blaine can do with that but we have had drops since we’ve been here. We’ve got to do a better job of catching the football. That gets you into a little bit of a rhythm. It doesn’t put you in second-and-10s. If you do throw it you’re throwing the ball down the field a little more. He missed some throws yesterday and he made some great throws. Consistency is definitely a must from everybody, but I think just standing in there and making that last throw for the touchdown says a lot about the guy. We need him consistently for the entire game, and I think he’s still young at this position. Each start is going to make him a better player, but there’s a lot of things he can do in his game and we can help him across the board. That’s protecting him better, including yesterday’s game. That pocket is closing down quicker than it should. We need a pocket to step up into more consistently and we need to get open outside and we need to get healthier. We need to get our guys back and get them healthy. A lot of those things may take place.”
We can find similar stuff from Gene Smith or Jack Del Rio from 2011.
The Jaguars need to take us to a place where the topic changes.
The two missing offensive linemen, Eben Britton and Cam Bradfield, will be worked back into practice some Wednesday. If they can return and play well and Blackmon starts catching the ball, maybe we’ll finally change the topic. At this point, though, it's hard to expect that's what we will be doing.