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Monday, November 25, 2013
Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert era nearly over?

By Michael DiRocco

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Blaine Gabbert era in Jacksonville isn't officially over, but it's pretty darn close.

Head coach Gus Bradley said Monday the Jaguars are sticking with Chad Henne as the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season, but he still left a small window open for Gabbert possibly getting on the field -- mainly if he believed Gabbert would be able to provide a spark.

But barring injury it's likely Henne will take every snap in the remaining five games.

"I talked to Blaine last week about being ready for his opportunities if they should exist, if we felt like we need a jolt or the opportunity presents itself to go in the game I would not hesitate to do that,” Bradley said. "It's not going to be from Chad throwing one interception or we have two three-and-outs in a row, but it's just more of a feeling that I have that maybe we need to try it and get him in the game.

Blaine Gabbert
Blaine Gabbert has 22 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in 28 career games.
"It's not let's go in there thinking, ‘Let's get Blaine some reps in this game.' I think it's more we really feel strongly about Chad, but if something should take place we wouldn't hesitate with Blaine."

That was the closest Bradley has come to saying that the franchise has decided to move on from the player the team's previous regime drafted with the 10th overall pick in 2011. Moving on has been the logical assumption since Bradley decided to go with Henne even after Gabbert recovered from the hamstring strain he suffered against St. Louis on Oct. 6. Still, Monday's statement was the clearest indication Bradley has given that the team has seen enough of Gabbert.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Gabbert is 5-22 as a starter and has thrown 22 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions in 28 career games. More importantly, he can't stay healthy. Since he was drafted he has missed games because of injuries to his shoulder, forearm (the final six games of the 2012 season), thumb and a cut on his hand. He also battled an ankle injury during training camp this July. He has failed to finish six of his past 10 starts (including preseason) because of those injuries.

Gabbert started three games this season and completed 49 percent of his passes for 481 yards and one touchdown with seven interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns.

Henne has been significantly better, completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,124 yards and four touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also has led the Jaguars to their only two victories.

Gabbert has one more year remaining on his rookie contract but Bradley would not comment on Gabbert's future.

"I don't even think about that far right now," he said.

The Jaguars are tied with Atlanta and Houston for the worst record in the NFL and will likely end up with a top three selection in May's NFL draft. The pick will almost certainly be used on a quarterback, especially if Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell have truly decided the Gabbert era is over.

There's no reason that it shouldn't be. Gabbert hasn't shown anything more than flashes of ability and three years are long enough to develop the consistency needed to be a quality starter in the NFL.