Jaguars Can't Evaluate Gabbert

The Jaguars have played more than half of the season with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and there's not enough signs that he will be a star or complete bust.

After quarterback Luke McCown's four-interception game back on September 18th in the Meadowlands, the Jaguars decision to start rookie Blaine Gabbert appeared to be an easy one. Gabbert was the future, and it was assumed that he couldn't play worse than the band-aid veteran.

The Jaguars knew that there would be a certain amount of growing pains with their rookie, as he was a collegiate starter for just two seasons. As expected as these growing pains were, the Jacksonville front office needed to see Gabbert in action to evaluate whether he can be the future quarterback to lead the team to respectability.

After nine starts, nobody has any idea whether or not Blaine Gabbert can play.

Blaine Gabbert is near the bottom of the league in every passing category, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Gabbert has faced tougher competition than any of the other rookie signal callers and he by far has the least amount of weapons to work with. On Sunday, Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis dropped an easy touchdown pass from Gabbert in the first half and the Jaguars offense never recovered against the top-ranked Texans defense.

"It was a leak here, a leak there and we never really got clicking," guard Uche Nwaneri said.

The problem with the Jaguars inferior offense is that those "leaks" that Uche Nwaneri was talking about happens every single game and on almost every single drive. Wide receivers quit on routes. When they don't they drop passes. Protection breaks down, and when it doesn't Gabbert feels a rush that might or might not be there. No quarterback could flourish with weapons like Jason Hill and Mike Thomas and the Jaguars are left wondering whether theirs can play at all on this level, surrounded by any talent.

In the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio decided to bench Gabbert as he was "looking for a spark" for the offense.

"A quarterback is only as good as the players around him," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "When they pull your quarterback, they are saying something about you. It's not the quarterback. We have to continue to work to get better with whoever is going to be the starter next week."

Pulling Gabbert was the right move if the team was trying to win the game, although it likely came one quarter too late. But at what cost? With a team that's now 3-8, isn't the season about putting the rookie quarterback into as many situations as possible to learn from?

"You never want to lose a game," Gabbert said after the 20-13 loss. "As a competitive guy, you never want to be pulled, but that's out of my control."

Jack Del Rio later confirmed that Blaine Gabbert would remain the team's starting quarterback, "until I tell you otherwise." If playing with the worst skill position players in the NFL isn't tough enough, Gabbert now has to look over his shoulder to his lame-duck head coach after every mistake.

Jacksonville so blatantly ignored the skill positions in the offseason that 2011's nightmarish campaign that will leave them with one of the worst records in football and also knowing virtually nothing about their first-round pick.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

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