Blaine Gabbert started for the Titans in place of Marcus Mariota, who is dealing with an elbow injury that is making it difficult for him to grip the football. Gabbert finished with 117 passing yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Now in his eighth NFL season, it’s more than fair to say Gabbert is not a good quarterback and probably never will be. The win over the Texans was his 46th career start and the 30th that finished with him below 200 passing yards. Some of those low totals happened because he got injured or benched, but for the most part, it’s just who he is as a passer.
Who he is as a quarterback was encapsulated in one beautiful moment of disaster late in the Week 2 win.
With a few minutes left in the fourth quarter and a 17-17 tie on the scoreboard, the Titans were driving into scoring position when Gabbert threw a ball that was batted at the line. Instead of letting it fall, Gabbert caught the pass, scrambled toward the sideline, and then threw it again.
Nope. Can’t do that.
But wait, it’s not quite as dumb as you think. Let’s review.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘That play is one of the most laughably ill-advised things a quarterback can do.’
But was it? Gabbert explained his logic after the game.
“Actually, it was called on me my rookie year,” Gabbert said, via Titan Insider. “You’re reacting in the game but it worked out in our favor and in that situation, it was kind of a flashback to Marcus (Mariota) in Kansas City catching his own batted ball and running it in.
“There were a lot of guys in my way, so rather than taking a 10-yard sack, losing a down, just throw it away and take a 5-yard penalty and keeping us relatively close in the field position.”
It makes sense, and it helped out the Titans. If he ran out of bounds or got tackled behind the line, it would’ve been third down with a long way to go. Instead, it remained second down and the Titans were backed up just five yards.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien was furious that Tennessee didn’t lose a down, and it definitely feels like he has a good point. But that’s the rule and Gabbert took advantage.
Tennessee converted on the next play with a short pass to Corey Davis that went for 18 yards and a first down, setting up a game-winning field goal a few plays later.
So why just a 7.8? Because maybe Gabbert should consider just letting batted balls fall to the ground. He said it’s a mistake he’s already made, so maybe stop doing that? There’s a chance it could turn into a replay of Mariota’s touchdown pass to himself in the playoffs, but catching the ball 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage like Gabbert isn’t a good call.
The play may have worked out in the grand scheme, but it still wasn’t a great look.
Gabbert slowly angling away from the oncoming tackler and then panic shoveling the ball forward with his left arm? Nope.
He’s had worse plays over the course of his largely unsuccessful career.
"Gabbert throws well short of the sticks" https://t.co/WWJLvSTTDI— Never Been Wrong (@ColeFartley) October 7, 2016
But his most recent blooper reel worthy play is good too.
Gabbert has a career passer rating of 71.5 and a 12-34 record as a starter.
On the one hand, it’s annoying that he keeps getting chances to play football when other quarterbacks — like, oh I don’t know, Colin Kaepernick — are watching from home. On the other hand, I love me some slapstick comedy.
The NFL is better when there’s a player who will throw two incomplete passes on one play early in his career, and then do it again.
Watching Gabbert play a game from the opening whistle until the end of the fourth quarter is impossible, an excruciating experience of short passes devoid of any kind explosiveness or big plays.
But let him play long enough and he’ll give you a goofy play to laugh about. That’s good enough for me.