The Jacksonville Jaguars have to like the coach-speak they hear coming from new head coach Mike Mularkey as he surveys the roster before him. After all, the team traded up to the No. 10 spot in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft for the No. 16 pick overall and the team’s second rounder as well (No. 49) for the rights to Gabbert. One look at last season and the No. 16 choice might have fared better in Ryan Kerrigan.
Still, there’s reason for hope and you don’t throw a rookie quarterback under the bus and expect much at first, yet that’s what the former Missouri star had to endure. The Jags stumbled early and often and Gabbert looks to be the least promising of any of the kids chosen in last year’s draft, with even flashes from Christian Ponder and Jake Locker earning praise for potential. Instead Gabbert usually finds critics hammering him and the team’s choice of him so early.
Yet Mularkey believes Gabbert has a solid NFL future and he’s ready to do everything he can to help him. As the former Falcons offensive coordinator, he has a quarterback to compare him to in Matt Ryan and he sees some similarities.
“With Matt, it was never good enough,” Mularkey said. “Even when it was good, it wasn’t good enough. I think he (Gabbert) wants to be good. It’s important to him.”
“He’s got a strong arm. He can move out of the pocket. He’s intelligent, (can operate) the no huddle,” Mularkey said. “I think he can do a lot of things for us. And I think the guy wants to be coached. You can tell some quarterbacks think they know it all. I don’t have that feeling (about Gabbert).”
As for what went wrong, Mularkey was reticent to say and spoke carefully about Gabbert’s first season.
“I don’t want to get into the things that took place last year, but (I think) there were things in his head even before the ball was snapped,” Mularkey said. “He knew there may be a chance the rush could get to him for a variety of reasons. I don’t want to step on any toes, but I’ve got to get that out of his head.”