Blaine Gabbert finally got his first NFL victory Monday night in his fifth start, but the Jaguars know he is far from being the player they hope he will become.
When the Jaguars beat Baltimore, 12-7, he didn't get a touchdown, but he didn't turn the ball over.
Still, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said he's suffering the growing pains of a rookie quarterback.
"It starts with the quarterback," Koetter said of the problems the Jaguars have had getting their passing game rolling.
"I thought he was making steady progress and he went up against a top end defense (Baltimore) and he regressed a little bit," he said.
Koetter added, "He did what he had to do. We won the game. He didn't turn the ball over and you would expect a rookie quarterback to be inconsistent at times. We felt like we had been seeing steady improvement, but we felt like he took a little bit of a step back fundamentally. You can say maybe that's somewhat to be expected from a rookie, but it's not necessarily acceptable. He knows that. I'm not saying anything he already doesn't know."
Of his handling pressure in the pocket, Koetter said, "That's experience. You look at the top quarterbacks in the league and they seem to have an uncanny ability to know how long they can hang in the pocket. That's something that comes with time."
Koetter noted the Jaguars played three really good defenses in a row and he seems confident that Gabbert will become more consistent.
"He sees the field very well. That's one of his strengths. He can come right off after good or bad plays and immediately tell you what he saw. Not all quarterbacks I've coached can do that.
Sometimes, they make a mistake and they have no idea what happened. Blaine needs to have a more consistent pocket presence. He knows it. We're working on it. And I think that it's going to be better and better with experience," Koetter said.
He added, "Blaine is a great guy to coach. And he's got a good mentor in the quarterback room in Luke (McCown). Blaine is very coachable. He wants to be coached. He's very hard on himself. All good qualities. The bottom line is we're all driven by results."
The Jaguars' passing game problems may be affecting tight end Marcedes Lewis, who had 58 catches last year, 10 for touchdowns. This year, he has just 11 catches, none for touchdowns.
"We're all pressing in the passing game. We realize we're struggling in that area and you have guys pressing. And normally when you're pressing, it usually doesn't help. It makes it worse. It's not just wave your magic wand and fix it," Koetter said.
Lewis has had just one drop this year according to Stats, Inc., but he's had two passes in the end zone that defenders kept him from catching.
"They get paid to make plays, too. I put a lot of pressure on myself to come down with those. It's only a matter of time before me and Blaine get on the same page and those plays start becoming positive plays," Lewis said.
Until that happens, coach Jack Del Rio acknowledged that Lewis will get criticism for struggling after signing a new deal.
"Anytime you hear stuff like that, you've got to perform or it will continue," Del Rio said.
Can't Judge Gabbert Solely on Stats
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