Pocket presence and a willingness and ability to step into throws are the two biggest issues facing Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Jack Del Rio declared Monday that Gabbert, who was pulled in Sunday's loss to Houston, will start a week from tonight against San Diego.
But a day after Gabbert absorbed six of the Texans' seven sacks, Del Rio addressed a question about Gabbert's courage in a collapsing pocket.
“I think it’s fair to say that he’s going to have to operate with pressure in his face at a higher level than what we’ve seen thus far," Del Rio told the Jacksonville press. "Part of that is the responsibility of us making sure that we’re affording him the kind of protection that the quarterback should have, part of that is him being able to stand in the face of it and make decisions and be on time and accurate, and that’s part of playing that position.”
According to Del Rio, the Texans' sacks included "a couple examples of us needing to get rid of the ball and there were a couple examples of just protection breaking down, us giving him no chance.”
Right tackle Guy Whimper was never in the offseason plan as a starter, and he struggled against Houston outside linebacker Connor Barwin, who had four of the QB takedowns. Back issues for Eben Britton, who is on IR, mean the Jaguars haven't fielded the offensive line they had hoped for most of this season.
But three drafts into Gene Smith's tenure, a general manager who considers himself a foundation-builder should have assembled a group more capable of providing consistent protection.
The line and the quarterback have a long way to go still.