By: Rob Johnson @RJ1452
The hits just kept on coming for the Jaguars last Sunday. There aren't many things worse than blowing a ten point, fourth quarter lead to a team that's at least as bad as your team. Unfortunately, the Jags experienced three awful scenarios that are even worse.
Losing the game in overtime was heart-breaking. Watching Maurice Jones-Drew get injured was terrible. Blaine Gabbert standing on the sideline with his arm in a sling was a horrific sight.
Prior to suffering a shoulder injury, Gabbert was meeting second-year expectations. He was 8 for 10 with 110 yards passing and a touchdown. Gabbert was showing the progress that can lead the Jaguars to wins this season and prepare him for a major step forward in 2013. Exhilaration had to be building amongst most Jags fans.
With today's news that Gabbert is expected to play this Sunday against the Packers, fans should be excited. There is now reason to watch the game. Let's be honest, the thought of Chad Henne leading the Jaguars, without Maurice Jones-Drew, in Green Bay probably left many fans looking for other things to do. The sight of the 1-5, rudderless Jags playing the powerful Packers on their home turf is only bearable by the most hardcore fans and media members paid to watch the game.
However, Gabbert has now given everyone a reason to be in front of a TV. This game provides the much maligned signal caller a chance to prove he is the future of the franchise. Realistically, that won't be completely answered on Sunday, but Gabbert can begin to provide hope to Jaguars fans.
The Packers are ranked 17th against the pass, but they are only giving up 232 yards in the air and have 9 interceptions. Without Charles Woodson (broken collarbone) roaming the defensive backfield, there is an opportunity for Gabbert to strike early in the game. Correct reads and good throws by Gabbert, proper routes and no dropped balls from the receivers mixed in with a communication error or two by the Packers could lead to touchdowns.
Granted, that seems like a lot to wish for. Gabbert will be under a lot of pressure from the Packers (They lead the NFL with 24 sacks), and not having MJD is detrimental despite Rashad Jennings proving that he is a quality running back. Therefore, I have no delusions that the Jags can win a shoot-out with the Packers.
How Gabbert handles the game with an injury to accompany all of the pre-snap reads and blitzes that the Packers will throw at him will be interesting to watch. Just being on the field Sunday is not enough for Gabbert to prove he belongs in the NFL. He must elevate himself to a level that shows he is the future of the Jaguars.
That won't require a victory. It will just take a some grit.
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