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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
QB Watch: Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert

By Michael DiRocco

A weekly analysis of the Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback play.

Gabbert
Gabbert
Rewind: Blaine Gabbert had a rough beginning to the most important season of his career. He completed 16 of 35 passes for 121 yards and threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. Granted, it was the first action Gabbert had seen in three weeks because of a fractured right thumb and the offensive line gave up six sacks, but it was one of the worst performances in the league.

Fast-forward: Gabbert suffered a cut on the top of his right hand late in the game that required 15 stitches to close and he will not play in Sunday’s game at Oakland. Chad Henne will get the start, and that may not necessarily be a bad thing. In the first nine games of the 2012 season, the Jaguars averaged 263.6 yards per game, 185.3 passing yards per game and 14.1 points per game under Gabbert before he went on IR with a forearm injury. The team averaged 326.3 yards per game, 233.3 passing yards per game and 15.3 points per game in the final six games in which Henne started.

Job safety: The Jaguars’ top priority this season was finding out if Gabbert can be a franchise quarterback and the player around which to build the team under new GM Dave Caldwell and new coach Gus Bradley. One game certainly isn’t enough to make that determination, so Gabbert will return as the starter even if Henne plays well against the Raiders.

Prediction:  Top receiver Justin Blackmon is suspended so No. 2 receiver Cecil Shorts (60 career catches) becomes the main target. The rest of the receivers -- Ace Sanders, Mike Brown and Stephen Burton -- have a combined 11 career catches. Could be another rough day.