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Blaine Gabbert film analysis

I've watched a bunch of film on Blaine Gabbert as several people requested some stuff on him. This was a tough one because of 3 reasons:
1. His team was terrible - like, Charles Barkely Turrible! Poor protection most of the time, and a lot, I mean a LOT of dropped passes by receivers.
2. Really poor offensive creativity. There were a lot of plays that were so poorly designed and executed - they could've had Joe or Steve back there and it would've been "Turrible". Plus, when they would get some guys open - they were asking him to do things that I don't think are his strength. Throwing on the run is not a huge strength of his - he's not terrible at it, but it's not something I would try and use as a steady diet.
3. They were often in really poor passing situations. They had a lot of 3rd and longs to throw in - which, it's hard to get a good idea on any QB when it seems like half their film is "3rd and 8".

But, here's what I've seen from film over the past 2 seasons(which isn't as much as you'd think because of all the games Chad Henne played in).
His mechanics are, for the most part, sound. He's a definite rhythm passer. If he's not in rhythm his accuracy is poor at best. He fits best in a system that is a 3,5,7 step drop, timing system. When he has to improvise or climb the pocket, he's out of his comfort zone. He does have a quick release that keeps defenders from jumping too many of his throws. He has a tendency, every once in a while, to stare down his receivers. Being a rhythm passer, I don't think he ever felt comfortable or confident in the guys in front of him to keep him clean.

His arm strength is average. He can get ok zip on the ball on the short to intermediate throws, but he's no Kaepernick. His deep ball flight is good - it's got a good spin to it, but, he tends to throw deep balls inside - which is not really a good thing. When he tries to make "back shoulder" throws - they tend to be "front" shoulder throws..... Meaning, his receivers often had to try and cross over the CB on those throws which put them in tough situations. Or when they beat their man deep and had a step his throws would be a little short and inside.

His accuracy is good when he's in rhythm. But, if he doesn't have his feet set and is on a good platform, he can't wing a ball into a small window.

I think the jury is definitely still out on this guy. He's a guy you look at and go, "I don't know, it's sorta there, but hard to tell".

I'll be posting some pics as reference for a bunch of different stuff with him, some good, some bad.



This is from 2012 against Houston(which was a pretty good defense that year). The Texans are gonna run a cover 1 man while pulling an outside stunt.
The Jaguars try and run an in/out "flag" route on the outside off PA.



After the PA you see how the safety and corner have the WR bracketed at the bottom. The TE went to the ground on his run block fake and in doing so caused the defenders to forget about him.



You see how he's in a clean pocket and the TE has released into his curl over the middle. This should be an automatic completion with good RAC yards. Instead, Gabbert locks on to his receiver.



Gabbert tries to throw the ball to his left, but gets hit and fumbles the ball. You see how wide open the TE was....



From the endzone you can see what Gabbert saw on his back foot plant. He's got no defenders in the middle of the field(which is where his head is looking btw) and a TE releasing into that zone. This should've been automatic. Instead he panics when he see's the unblocked defenders coming at him and locks on to his primary target.



You see how he's locked on to his primary target and never see's the TE wide open.
  • ethan
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I tend to agree with your analysis for the most part, except that Gabbert has + arm strength. He won the best arm awards at the Nike camps against the likes of E.J. Manuel, Mike Glennon, Andrew Luck, etc. Don't know if he ever competed against Kaepernick who was a couple years older, but all the scouting reports on Gabbert lauded his arm. It may not seem as strong as Kaepernick's because Gabbert doesn't wind up for his throws. Flicks them from his ear. One of the sweetest releases in the game this side of Aaron Rodgers.
  • Giedi
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I think - from reading your impressions - my takeaway from your post is the he was never properly developed. You can teach throwing on the run and stepping up into the pocket, but it looks like he was never given the time to understand and get comfortable the way Colin did - sitting on the bench. As many articles pointed out when we traded for him, he was thrown in the fire and lost his confidence. When that went, he lost his game and got traded.
Originally posted by ethan:
I tend to agree with your analysis for the most part, except that Gabbert has + arm strength. He won the best arm awards at the Nike camps against the likes of E.J. Manuel, Mike Glennon, Andrew Luck, etc. Don't know if he ever competed against Kaepernick who was a couple years older, but all the scouting reports on Gabbert lauded his arm. It may not seem as strong as Kaepernick's because Gabbert doesn't wind up for his throws. Flicks them from his ear. One of the sweetest releases in the game this side of Aaron Rodgers.

true, and that's what I mean. He's not going to put the massive zip on the ball, but like I mentioned - quick release. His throw reminds me a little bit of David Carr - not the shot put motion, but the short throw rotation. For his motion - he gets good zip. But, in terms of pure zip, he's not an Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Kap, Vick, Newton, Flacco. He's no noodle arm, but he's not at the top of arm strength. I'd say it's a little bit better than a Drew Bree's in terms of zip.
  • ethan
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I agree that he is a rythmn, precision, passer. Not great at freelancing. Which is a big reason he looked so bad in Jacksonville. New offensive system every year, and new receivers every week, basically. That is the worst case scenario for a guy trying to establish a rythmn passing game. Every year he was there the team took at least half the season to get comfortable with the system, and Blaine never got to play the second half in two of the three seasons. Which was because he was getting beat up all the time due to lousy protection. Played his first season with a broken toe and damaged rib cartiledge. Second season with a seperated left shoulder with a sling support to get him through. Then his throwing hand and arm started getting banged up.
Here's one of those moments I mentioned where, he shows good qb play but the team fails around him.



This is the first game of last season against the Chiefs. The Chiefs go with a cover 3 zone here. He does a great job on this play of recognizing the defense and moving the defenders around. The Jaguars are going to run a double crossing pattern over the middle with corner route from the receiver and a quick out with the TE. This play is designed to get it to the backside crosser.


Gabbert recognizes the 8 man drop, so the backside crosser is not going to be open, so, he pump fakes to the short out, which pulls Brandon Flowers(the CB) up for just a second from his deep 3rd responsibility.



You see how the corner is out of position and that Gabbert threw the ball before his receiver broke wide open - having known that the corner was out of position.



He put the ball right where it needed to be but it literally bounced off his receivers hands.....
Good breakdown. Its not secret that young QBs with bad Olines, and bad coaches tend to make bad decisions. Not trying to make excuses for his poor play. This is not the best he can do.
  • ethan
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Cecil Shorts was the Jags most reliable receiver and he had one of the worst drop rates in the league both seasons he has started. It went downhill from there as far as the receivers were concerned. Blackmon was good, but Gabbert only got to play a couple games with him early on when Blackmon was learning the system and not in the best shape. After that, either Gabbert was hurt or Blackmon was suspended. Shorts III wouldn't make the 49ers roster, and he was the best that Gabbert had to throw to.
Here's some highlighting of his mechanics - which are, for the most part and in most situations, good.



This was a straight 5 step dropback pass. Here's he's on his 5th step and see how nicely he's "loaded" his legs. You want the qb to have a good, deep, bend in the knee's as he hits his back step to be able to drive his weight forward on his throw. He also does a nice job of keeping his head down the middle of the field - not locking on to a receiver and holding the defenders in place.



Notice how he's using his legs to drive through the throw. He's also got his shoulders nice and square at the start of his throwing motion.



I know I talk about that front foot a lot but, you see here why it's so important. He gets his front foot pointed right at his target and is able to get his shoulders square through the throw and keep his front knee bent. This allows for a strong, accurate throw.



You see how accurate the throw is, it's exactly where you want it. That's like throwing a football through a tire 25-30 feet away.
  • Giedi
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Originally posted by jonnydel:
true, and that's what I mean. He's not going to put the massive zip on the ball, but like I mentioned - quick release. His throw reminds me a little bit of David Carr - not the shot put motion, but the short throw rotation. For his motion - he gets good zip. But, in terms of pure zip, he's not an Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Kap, Vick, Newton, Flacco. He's no noodle arm, but he's not at the top of arm strength. I'd say it's a little bit better than a Drew Bree's in terms of zip.

Would you say Alex Smith's arm strength is comparable? Alex's arm is nowhere near as powerful as Colins.

Having said that, I hope he does quickly as possible get comfortable in this offense and starts reading the defense and throwing where he has to, as in the example you posted. Arm strength doesn't make you a game changing QB, it's reading skills, instincts and accuracy. If he has boatloads of those, then he'll be a good backup to Colin.
Here's a good example of his pre-snap recognition.



Here, the Chiefs show an all out blitz look, pressing the outside receivers. Gabbert does a good job of recogntion and audibles out of the play. He see's how Thamba Hali has set deeper than normal - indicating he's not coming on a rush, but will be either in coverage on the TE or helping to double the TE.



He recognizes how the safety was set too far to the short side of the field. Both receivers are locked up and the TE is doubled. The slot receiver though was given a big cushion because of the wide safety set, here Gabbert throws to the play he audibled - the quick slant. He throws the ball before his receiver has turned around.



He hits his receivers right where he should which allows the receiver to get a few yards after the catch.
Originally posted by Giedi:
Originally posted by jonnydel:
true, and that's what I mean. He's not going to put the massive zip on the ball, but like I mentioned - quick release. His throw reminds me a little bit of David Carr - not the shot put motion, but the short throw rotation. For his motion - he gets good zip. But, in terms of pure zip, he's not an Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Kap, Vick, Newton, Flacco. He's no noodle arm, but he's not at the top of arm strength. I'd say it's a little bit better than a Drew Bree's in terms of zip.

Would you say Alex Smith's arm strength is comparable? Alex's arm is nowhere near as powerful as Colins.

Having said that, I hope he does quickly as possible get comfortable in this offense and starts reading the defense and throwing where he has to, as in the example you posted. Arm strength doesn't make you a game changing QB, it's reading skills, instincts and accuracy. If he has boatloads of those, then he'll be a good backup to Colin.
They're fairly comparable I think. Alex could put some good zing on the ball when he needed to, he just didn't like to very often. I think Gabberts might be a smidge better - if it is, not by much. That's why I thought Gabberts arm strength is average. Because I thought it was pretty darn close to Alex's - which is average.
Here's an example of how an interception isn't always the QB's fault.



Here, the Jaguars are trying to isolate the RB(Forsett) on the LB highlighted in yellow. They're going to run the receivers in on slants to vacate the outside. This way, you get a RB 1-1 with the LB - usually a win for you. The keys to this play are: you're receivers getting a good release inside to pull their man and your outside blocker cutting down the end man on the LOS - neither happen.

The inside receiver gets a good release, but, the outside receiver does not. Also, the T does a terrible job of trying to cut down Hali.


Because Gabbert has to lob the pass to his RB(you can't bullet a pass like that, too hard for the RB to hand) Hali gets a super easy pick 6. Also, the outside receivers poor release doesn't pull the outside DB in at all. So, even if the tackle cuts down Hali - the play is only going for a short gain.
  • ethan
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I know the one full game Gabbert played last season, Shorts coughed up two passes on his hands into interceptions. One for a touchdown the other way. Gabbert's numbers were horrible that game, but Tony Boselli the great former LT who covers the Jags on television, said Blaine was the best player they had on the field that day. Boselli and Jeff Lageman, who also played in the NFL for a long time and covers the Jags in the media now are the biggest supporters of Gabbert. The people who crack on him constantly are the website dorks trying to get attention.
Here's an example of the bad. However, the play selection was bad, the o-line play was bad, and the receiver play was bad too.



Here, against the Colts, they're facing a 10 man box. The play is just mirror double outs. From the get go this play was doomed. They have 10 defenders close to the LOS and you're going to try 4 short routes???? Epic fail. Gabbert should've callled a timeout right here.



You see how all the receivers are blanketed



The inside defender at the bottom probably gets away with a hold - but still Gabbert should never attempt this throw. He tries to force it into the inside receiver at the bottom after he feels the pressure coming.



You see how, as the ball is getting there, the receiver never had a shot.


It's an easy pick for the defense. This was a bad play call, bad o-line play, the receiver never fought for the ball and Gabbert should've never tried to make this throw. This was all around turrible!