- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback play.
Rewind: Blaine Gabbert made his return to the lineup after missing two games because of a cut on the back of his throwing hand. Unfortunately, he had tight end Marcedes Lewis for only two plays because of a calf injury, leaving him with receiver (Cecil Shorts) and four other receivers who had combined to play in eight games. So naturally, it didn’t go well. Gabbert completed 17 of 32 passes for 179 yards. He was sacked four times and threw three interceptions -- all of which bounced off receivers' hands. However, he did do some of the things that coach Gus Bradley encouraged him to do: take shots down the field, scramble around and try to make plays and play more freely. But Gabbert's efforts still couldn’t get the offense moving. At one point, the Jaguars went three-and-out on five consecutive possessions.
Fast-forward: Gabbert does get receiver Justin Blackmon (four-game suspension) back for Sunday’s game at St. Louis, and that’s certainly going to help. It’s not going to save the offense, but it will give Gabbert a big-play option in the passing game. Gabbert needs to continue to try to play more freely and be willing to take shots down the field. Blackmon is a better option for that than Shorts, who seems to have been overwhelmed with the pressure of being the No. 1 target.
Protection issues: Gabbert has been sacked 10 times in his two starts this season. That averages out to a sack every 6.7 drop backs.
Prediction: The Rams rank 18th in the NFL in pass defense, so there will be some opportunities to make plays. Gabbert just has to be willing to go downfield more, which is likely to happen with Blackmon back in the fold. Gabbert should post his first 200-yard passing game of the season.