When the Jacksonville Jaguars begin the 2013 NFL season, no one expects it will end with the team earning a victory in the Super Bowl. In fact, several have said that the team may have the worst roster in the league and could be a favorite to land the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Despite young, intriguing talent on offense and offensive tackles that look to be one of the best pairs in the NFL, not many analysts expect much from the Jaguars offense, and that really comes down to one player: Blaine Gabbert.
And who can blame them?
Two seasons into his NFL career, Gabbert has compiled a 5-19 record as a starter and hasn't done much of anything that would inspire hope for his future. That hasn't been entirely his fault, as a lack of weapons and protection have plagued most of his 24 career starts. However, those excuses are essentially gone as he enters his third season in the NFL.
As a rookie, Gabbert's receiving corps consisted of Mike Thomas, Jason Hill, Jarett Dillard and Chastin West, the only four wide receivers on the team to finish the season with 10 or more receptions. After the emergence of Cecil Shorts III and the addition of Justin Blackmon in 2012, Gabbert's group of targets was much improved, but his protection was not.
In fact, it was probably worse, as neither Cameron Bradfield nor Guy Whimper could do much of anything at the right tackle position. Gabbert and Chad Henne were sacked a combined 50 times in 2012, leading to the selection of offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the second-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
With an offensive line seemingly primed to be much better in 2013 than 2012 and another year of development for Shorts III and Blackmon, all signs point upwards for the Jaguars offense. Add in rookie receiver Ace Sanders and "offensive weapon" Denard Robinson, and there do not seem to be many reasons why Gabbert shouldn't succeed.
That means the pressure is on.
Gabbert will have to produce in his third NFL season or it will be tough to imagine the Jaguars not pursuing another option at quarterback during the 2014 offseason.