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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
With Gabbert in, test for supporting staff

By Paul Kuharsky


The inevitable has arrived early in Jacksonville, and Jack Del Rio has told Blaine Gabbert he will start at quarterback for the Jaguars on Sunday in Carolina.

Luke McCown made it an easier choice than the team had hoped with an awful performance in the Jaguars’ loss to the New York Jets.

But in the big picture, sooner is better for Gabbert.

I heard Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff on The Dan Patrick Show yesterday talking about rookie quarterbacks. He suggested the era of high draft picks having to struggle out of the gate is past. Looking at the solid play of Andy Dalton and Cam Newton so far, one has to wonder if he’s right.

“I’m not in any way amazed by rookie quarterbacks in this league,” Dimitroff said. “There are some young quarterbacks who continue to impress. I think it’s great for team builders to know they can draft a quarterback and play them early.”

It seems like more guys are able to step in and play well.

Newton was the top overall pick to Carolina, Gabbert was 10th to Jacksonville and Dalton was 35th to Cincinnati.

Much has to do with what surrounded them. The Jaguars have worked hard to get a foundation set for a new quarterback to have a good framework around him.

Sunday we find out a bit about how strong the foundation is, and we get our first indication about how equipped Gabbert is to play well early. If his defense can fare a lot better than the Panthers' first two opponents have against Newton, that would be a big help, too.