Married to Gabbert, Smith remains patient

February, 25, 2012
2/25/12
5:06
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Judgments come fast in the NFL, especially from the outside.

On the inside, NFL teams work hard to preach patience and show it.

That’s what the Jaguars intend to do with Blaine Gabbert. The 10th overall pick last year struggled through his rookie season and got crushing reviews.

Moving forward he’ll be working with a trio of new coaches who’ve helped develop young quarterbacks before: head coach Mike Mularkey, coordinator Bob Bratkowski and quarterback coach Greg Olson.

“That’s a good classroom,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “Good teachers. Some guys who have developed young quarterbacks. There is a part from a coaching end of shaping the talent and a part from the player’s end of committing to improve. I feel like we have that from the coaches and certainly from Blaine. I certainly think the arrow is up.”

A GM who traded up to draft a quarterback is certainly going to defend him a year in.

But in our time of instant analysis and quick-trigger bust labels, Gabbert was reeling by the end of an awful rookie campaign.

“It’s the nature of playing that position,” Smith said. “A young quarterback coming into the league and finding out that teams have a lot of time to prepare for you and there are 10 other moving parts. Just like with me, you’re as good as the people you work with, line up with. We need to do some things to get our offense better and that starts with me.”

Fair or not, Smith can put together a tremendous defense and a team that can run very well. But his legacy will be written largely by whether Gabbert improves and pans out or continues to struggle and fades.

“That’s fair and it’s what you sign up for,” he said. “If you’re going to do what I do, you’ve got to have some guts. You’ve got to have conviction. You try to do your work the best you can and in most cases it does work out. To me, working hard gives you a chance at success. It doesn’t always guarantee it.

“As with any players, if you evaluate them right coming out they usually become what you thought they would.”

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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