Jack Del Rio said Wednesday that rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has done difficult things well but needs to do simpler things better.
How about short throws?
ESPN Stats and Info says on passes that have traveled less than 10 yards in the air, Gabbert has completed just 60 of 120 throws with one touchdown and one interception. His passer rating (60.9) and QBR (27) in such circumstances are the worst numbers in the league among 34 quarterbacks that have logged substantial playing time.
He’s 10-for-10 on screens for 92 yards with far better ratings -- a 39.3 QBR and a 105.0 passer rating.
So why aren’t the Jaguars throwing far more screens?
They prefer to talk of their entire group of pass catchers than just of their receivers, but running back Maurice Jones-Drew and tight end Marcedes Lewis are down in terms of receptions. And those guys should be the centerpieces of the simple stuff for Gabbert.
Jones-Drew has just 12 catches for 85 yards and no touchdowns midway through his season after 34 for 317 and two touchdowns a year ago.
Lewis has 15 receptions for 174 yards and no scores a year after he caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns.
If they are being well covered underneath, then there should be more available further downfield for Gabbert, and we know there has not been.
So while I’m a proponent of opening things up for Gabbert in the second half of the season, the route to doing do may actually start with more effective work on the short stuff.