|The Jaguars’ season in 2012 will ride on Blaine Gabbert’s right arm.|
In 2011, Blaine Gabbert didn’t look very good most of the way. He was inaccurate and had poor pocket presence. With that said, he did show improvement as the season progressed, especially over the course of the last 4 games. Gabbert more or less had a free pass in 2011. He was playing for a lame duck coach, had no consistant receivers, and he was the youngest starting quarterback in the league. That free pass ends in 2012.
At one point last season, I was preparing for the possibility of the Jaguars being forced to draft another quarterback in 2012. That possibility was dispelled completely when Gabbert and the Jaguars clubbed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-14. That, to me, was the game that Gabbert took a big leap forward and never really took a big step back the rest of the season. To me, he showed in that game that he had what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
In 2012, the Jaguars should be well set to make a legitimate run at the playoffs. Expectations will likely be the highest they’ve been since the Jaguars lost to the Patriots in January of 2008 in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. This Jaguars team, depending on the level of Gabbert’s play, looks to be every bit as talented as that 2007 squad.
The Jaguars have built a dominate defense in the course of just one year. The key for that unit will be staying healthy. Late in the season, with a decimated secondary, the Jaguars began to allow passers to throw all over them. If they can stay healthy, they’ll once again be near the top of the league.
The biggest problem on the other side of the ball was a lack of talented receivers. Gabbert was forced to learn and grow in an offense that could only do one thing; run the ball. With some help from the draft and free agency, those days should be over in Jacksonville.
Gabbert in all likelihood will be working with a solid playoff contending team in 2012. That puts a lot of pressure on him to perform. Last year, the Jaguars’ defense was able to keep them in a lot of close losses. Gabbert will be asked to help the defense in 2012. Should he be able to do that, the Jaguars have no reason not to be playoff bound.
In other words, it’s all on Gabbert in 2012. The Jaguars’ will live and die on the level of his play.