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Blaine Gabbert is fake news

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Don’t fall for preseason greatness. It’s a trap.

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NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Blaine Gabbert looked like a brand new quarterback Thursday. In his first appearance in an Arizona Cardinals uniform, Gabbert stole the show at the Hall of Fame Game with 11 completions on 14 passes for 185 yards.

He completed his first eight passes of the game, and it wasn’t just a dink-and-dunk offense. Gabbert picked up big chunks at a time, including a dart across the middle of the field on the opening drive of the game to Brittan Golden.

blainegabbert

NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth said he didn’t know Gabbert had such a big arm.

“Cardinals' Blaine Gabbert stars in Hall of Fame Game,” was a headline on CBS Sports the next day. “Blaine Gabbert Excels As Cowboys Nip Cardinals,” was the Cardinals’ official website’s take.

“It was only the preseason opener and a game void of any real star power, but Gabbert finally looked like the quarterback he was expected to be when he left Missouri following his junior year,” Sporting News wrote.

Oh how quickly we forget.

It was just 10 months ago that Gabbert was benched by the San Francisco 49ers in favor of Colin Kaepernick after struggling to get anything going against the Cardinals in Week 5. Yes, the 49ers offense was a mess around him, but Gabbert finished the year with five touchdowns and six interceptions. Kaepernick managed 16 touchdowns and four interceptions under the same circumstances.

Gabbert is who he is. He threw 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a rookie for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 and after five more seasons he’s at 38 touchdowns and 37 interceptions.

Maybe Gabbert turned a corner after signing with the Cardinals. But I doubt it.

When he was traded from the Jaguars to the 49ers in 2014, Jim “the quarterback whisperer” Harbaugh was supposed to be the one that could fix Gabbert. After one year of working with the quarterback, Harbaugh had a falling out with the 49ers and left to become the head coach at the University of Michigan.

The one year with Harbaugh appeared to make a huge impact, though. Gabbert looked like a brand new player in the 2015 preseason. Over three games, Gabbert completed 23 of 28 passes for 203 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

But he wasn’t fixed and Gabbert reverted to the same problems that doomed him in Jacksonville.

Now he’s with a coach who literally wrote a book called The Quarterback Whisperer. After the game Thursday, Bruce Arians said the performance was a good boost for Gabbert’s confidence.

“Hell yeah,” Arians said, via AZCardinals.com. “It’s his only shot. If you go out there and screw it up, you ain’t going to be here very long. It’s real important.”

Carson Palmer is still the starter and Drew Stanton is still second on the depth chart. But Gabbert is pushing for the backup job and it’s not hard to see what the Cardinals are intrigued by.

Gabbert’s a 6’4, 235-pound prototype of what a quarterback should look like and has the arm to match. But he’s consistently shrunk when the lights are brightest, and has been painfully hesitant to stand tall in the pocket or challenge defenders downfield.

A good half in preseason isn’t new for Gabbert. Shaking those issues in a game that actually matters would be. Carry on, everyone. Nothing to see here.