|Is Gabbert blameless in Jacksonville? (USATSI)|
Blaine Gabbert's first two years in the NFL have been forgettable at best, disastrous at worst. It's not entirely on him -- the Jaguars managed just seven wins over that time -- but as the face of the franchise, he's piñata numero uno when it comes to criticism from media, fans and, it turns out, former coaches.
Fair or not, that's the deal: Franchise quarterbacks often get too much credit when they win and disproportionate blame when they don't. So it's not surprising that a faceless former Jags employee has some less-than-laudatory things to say about Gabbert.
"Nothing's ever [Gabbert's] fault," a former Jaguars assistant told Yahoo.com's Mike Silver, adding that the 23-year-old former first-round pick was known at the team facility as "Blame" Gabbert.
So what do the observations of one disgruntled former employee mean? No much, really. Everybody knows Gabbert, the 10th pick in the 2011 draft, hasn't approached expectations. (We went so far as to name Jags' backup quarterback Chad Henne as one of the top comeback candidates for 2012 primarily because he played behind Gabbert.) And if Gabbert doesn't show something in '13 under new coach Gus Bradley and new general manager David Caldwell, Jacksonville will be in the market for its next franchise quarterback.
Although we don't know if we'd call this so much a defense of Gabbert as telling the other side of the story, CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco sent a series of tweets Monday in response to Silver's story.
I know at least three former prominent assistants on that Jacksonville team that love Gabbert.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 4, 2013
I actually talked to a Jaguars player two weeks ago and he said he felt bad for what they did to Gabbert in terms of limiting him.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 4, 2013
The Jaguars players, and some former coaches, all say the team was forced to play robotic. That hurt Gabbert. That hurt them all. Ask them— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 4, 2013
(In related news: We can understand why folks may have been walking on eggshells during Mike Mularkey's brief stint as head coach.)
For now, the plan remains TBD.
"Don't be surprised at anything we may or may not do," a high-ranking Jags source told Silver. "There are no options off the table."
If Gabbert plays well, all this becomes moot. If he doesn't, then obviously there will be changes.
One option that has long since been taken off the table: the return of Tim Tebow. Caldwell made that crystal clear in January when he told a reporter, "I can't imagine a scenario where Tim Tebow would be a Jacksonville Jaguar. Even if he's released."