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Jags' Gabbert could benefit, regress after coaching change

Jerome Miron/US Presswire
Blaine Gabbert has thrown six touchdowns and six interceptions in nine starts for the Jaguars.


 

Blaine Gabbert was benched Sunday and his head coach was fired Tuesday. Not exactly the best of weeks for the Jaguars rookie quarterback.

Gabbert will be starting again in Week 13, according to interim coach Mel Tucker, who takes over in Jacksonville for Jack Del Rio. But all is far from well for Gabbert, who has struggled mightily in his first season. The Jags are 2-7 in games Gabbert has started, and he has a paltry 62.2 passer rating to boot.

Gabbert could have the reins loosened over the final five games because Tucker and the coaching staff could open things up since they're auditioning for future work. Then again, based on how he's played, the offense could remain conservative to continue to hide his flaws.

General manager Gene Smith drafted Gabbert so the rookie will be given a fair chance to hold his job in 2012, but Tucker or a new coach still could bring in another quarterback in the offseason to push or usurp Gabbert.

A lot of Gabbert's future in Jacksonville depends on his growth and if the franchise will get him some much-needed playmakers other than Maurice Jones-Drew.

Gabbert also could have a new offensive coordinator and QB coach to work with in 2012. That could set him even further behind. Why? Look no further than relationships that other young QBs have with their coordinators and position coaches for proof:

Sam Bradford, Rams: It's looking more and more like Bradford could be playing under his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons. With only the Colts saving the Rams from holding the title of the NFL's worst team, coach Steve Spagnuolo and his staff, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, could be bounced.

The Rams are an overall mess so it's hard to tell if Bradford, who's been injured this season, has made any gains. The talent and competitiveness is there with Bradford. The supporting cast is not.

If he's playing another system next season, we might not really know how good Bradford could be until he's four or five years into his career.

Andy Dalton, Bengals: Dalton is pointed in the right direction, at least according to several Ravens officials. Less than a week after winning a tough game over the Bengals, I was told on different occasions, in almost the same storybook way, the following:

The Ravens entered every season knowing that it's rough facing Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. There wasn't too much concern about what the Bengals or Browns served up. After Dalton threw for 373 yards in a 31-24 loss to Baltimore, opinions changed. "Now we have to deal with Roethlisberger and Dalton twice a year," one team official said, echoing almost exactly what the others did.

Dalton has people's attention, especially because he seems to be getting better each week. But with Dalton's growth and the Bengals' push to the playoffs, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden also has turned heads.

Gruden likely isn't headed anywhere unless he gets a head-coaching offer, which could be premature at this point since this is his first season as an NFL coordinator. But if things continue in this direction, Gruden could eventually get poached and Dalton -- like Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan and other young players -- would have to try and move forward under a new tutor.

'Playbook' special on Tebow
A special edition of the NFL Network program, "Playbook", will focus exclusively on Tim Tebow, and how the electric QB continues to pull out thrilling wins for the Broncos. The program will air on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10:30 p.m. ET.

» Complete NFL Network schedule

Tim Tebow, Broncos: Broncos VP John Elway still isn't sold on Tebow as the quarterback of the future. If Denver keeps winning, he might have to convert, which would cause the Broncos to acquire more players who fit the run-based offense that fits Tebow's strengths. That ranges from offensive linemen to running backs to tight ends to backup quarterbacks who have and could run some form of the option.

Should the Broncos go in another direction at quarterback, what other team would be willing to give Tebow a shot -- especially since his skill set caused so much tweaking of an offensive system that no one else in the NFL consistently uses?

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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