September 21, 2011
"I'm going to be ready, there's no question about that," Gabbert said Sunday when asked how he'd feel if he were made the starter for week three. "We as quarterbacks prepare harder than anybody else."
With only two quarterbacks on the roster -- the other one being Luke McCown(notes), who just did more for Antonio Cromartie's self-esteem than 10 years of therapy and a Zoloft prediction ever could -- Gabbert's really the only choice. He relieved McCown late in the game against the Jets, and while I wouldn't extract much meaning from that brief appearance, he did complete 5 of 6 passes (most of them short) and managed not to be intercepted.
There's nothing to be gained from keeping McCown under center. He's not winning you games, and he's not your quarterback of the future. A rookie quarterback's got to get experience at some point. This is the right call.
Now, if you believe that Jacksonville should've moved to add another non-McCown veteran quarterback before the season, that's a whole different point. I'm not arguing at all that the "play the rookie immediately" philosophy is definitively better than the "let the rookie sit and learn under a capable veteran" philosophy.
This is not a decision you make because Cam Newton and Andy Dalton(notes) are playing well. They've got nothing to do with it, and every quarterback is different. They're two-week success stories, but guys like Philip Rivers(notes) and Aaron Rodgers(notes) make a good argument for the sit-and-wait option, too.
It's just that the Jaguars don't really have the latter option.
Among the four quarterbacks taken in the first round, Gabbert (10th overall) is only the second one to get a starting nod. Newton's tearing it up in Carolina, but Jake Locker(notes) (eighth overall, Tennessee) and Christian Ponder(notes) (12th overall, Minnesota) have yet to get the call. Dalton, the second-rounder, has started both games for Cincinnati.
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