Mularkey Believes in his Quarterbacks

Although the national perception is that Blaine Gabbert may be the first starting quarterback to be replaced in 2012, Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey believes he can succeed. Find out how the Jaguars will be working to improve their former first-round pick.

Blaine Gabbert took a beating on the field in his rookie season in 2011. He's taken an equally tough attack from fans during the offseason.

Don't include new Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey in that latter group. He's never coached Gabbert in a game, but he's coached against him. The Jaguars played at Atlanta in 2011 when Mularkey was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons.

The past week has resulted in more questions directed at Mularkey and his plans for Gabbert. With the Jaguars expressing an interest in making a trade for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, it left some wondering if the Jaguars had reservations about Gabbert as their starting quarterback.

Mularkey said he had spoken with both Gabbert and newly acquired Chad Henne in recent days to inform them of the developments.

"I just wanted to make sure they were updated with things from our end of things," Mularkey said. "Don't read into anything that you're hearing or reading, what we've told you from the beginning has not changed. I just wanted to reconfirm it.

"I just thought with the way things were going down yesterday that it was important that he heard from me and my belief in him. And Chad the same thing; why we brought him here has not changed."

Mularkey said nothing has changed with his or the staff's belief in Gabbert as the starter and Henne as the backup.

"We had a plan with Blaine as our starting quarterback, and signed Chad to come in here and back him up and compete for that job. That hasn't changed. Nothing has changed that we started when we got here nine weeks ago, and that plan is to help Blaine with a new coaching staff and a new scheme, and we're going to follow through with it."

The staff has some work to do to help Gabbert improve on his numbers from a year ago. He finished his rookie season with a passer rating of 65.4 and completed just 50.8 percent of his passes. He had two games with a rating over 90.0 and two others in the 80s but in 11 other contests, he finished with a rating in the 70s or below. His worst was a 26.7 rating in a game at Houston.

The new coaching staff has had a couple months to review tapes of Gabbert. But due to the league's new CBA, the coaches haven't been able to talk football with the players.

That will change starting next week for the Jaguars who can begin their offseason workouts. Most teams must wait until April 16, but because the Jaguars have a new coaching staff in place, they're allowed an early start.

"With the addition of (quarterbacks coach) Greg Olson, the addition of our offensive scheme, our philosophy, and all of the above, some of the things we feel like we can bring in and help him develop his talents on top of what he can already do," Mularkey said of Gabbert. "I watched tape again yesterday and there's a lot that he does very well and we just need to get that to be a consistent thing.

"Greg has studied quarterbacks and that's his trait. He's very diligent about how he coaches the position so we're going to do some things mechanics-wise. The scheme will hopefully help him but I am looking forward to having him (Olson) work one-on-one with all of our quarterbacks that we have in camp."

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