In case you missed it, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be starting rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert this weekend against the Carolina Panthers. I first heard of the news from Alfie Crow citing “sources.” The report was later confirmed by Tania Ganguli via Twitter:
The move is a little surprising to me. I know that McCown had a terrible game agains the Jets, but I expected them to give him at least one game to redeem himself. Regardless of my feelings towards the move, this is the direction of the Jaguars, and I’ll support the move.
Since most of my readers are also readers of Big Cat Country, I want to give a shout out to Alfie Crow. He’s been saying that the Jaguars should just start the rookie, and that’s the conclusion the team has come to.
For my part, I fully believed that Garrard was going to be the starter throughout the 2011 season, and the move to cut him surprised me. Now, this move is even more surprising. It’s not that I couldn’t foresee it. I truly thought that Gabbert would have a full year to sit and watch. Instead, he’ll be the next rookie to get thrown in the water. It’s sink or swim time.
Even though I’m surprised, I have confidence in Gabbert’s ability to lead this team in picking up some wins. The Jaguars are playing the Panthers this weekend, and that defense is the perfect opponent for Gabbert. He won’t be asked to do too much. He’ll simply be asked to be a game manager, much as McCown was against the Titans.
Gabbert will get his first major challenge the following week against the Saints. That game will be a difficult game for the Jaguars to win. Let’s face it. This team shouldn’t beat the Saints. They’ll then move on to the Bengals, another game I think Gabbert can manage well and win.
The immediate outlook is hazy. It’s hard to tell how Gabbert will do in his first NFL start, and fans should expect a lot of growing pains. Look, this guy is the guy. If he under-performs, fans have no one to call for. You can’t just pull the 10th pick of the draft after a couple of bad outings. Regardless of whether he flashes greatness or looks like a bust, this is the guy for the rest of the season. Period. There’s no going back. The schedule does Gabbert some favors early on, but it gets rough down the road. I truly think the Jaguars could contend for a playoff birth, but for that to happen, Gabbert has to grow up very, very quickly.