Nothing is more dangerous for a draft pick who is not working out than a new regime with no ties to him. That's the fate before Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose new head coach Mike Mularkey (and staff) comes in with no input into the decision to draft Gabbert last season as the first round quarterback of the future from Missouri. While Gene Smith, the team's GM, remains on board, Gabbert certainly doesn't enjoy carte blanche while he learns at the NFL level.
Mularkey is saying all the right things now about his young quarterback, but there's no official games to play for several months. Talk at this point in the year is cheap, and training camp is another matter entirely. If the Jags are going to falter again with Gabbert at the helm, they have other options in house. Don Banks of Sports Illustrated sees through the spring talk:
New head coach Mike Mularkey says there's no quarterback competition between Gabbert and Henne, but that's what he has to say right now. Gabbert is in fragile condition after a brutal rookie season, and there's no reason to further shake his confidence. But all you really need to know is that Jaguars coaches have been working with Gabbert to re-teach him some fundamentals and hone his drops and balance in the pocket. That's not really what you want to hear about your starting quarterback as he enters year two of his career, after going 10th overall in the draft.
Certainly Gabbert will get a chance to be the starter, but he'll only be given that. A player with his skill set should be able to hold off mediocre competition around him. It's not as if the team maneuvered to grab another young quarterback. The road is still paved for him to be the face of the franchise for some time -- but that's only if he wants it. Mularkey will say the right things now, but it will come down to performance and only performance in just a few months. And that goes for any quarterback on the roster.