Jacksonville Jaguars fans aren’t going to believe this, but Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says he would be “comfortable’’ with Blaine Gabbert starting in 2018 if Carson Palmer retires.
Arians wouldn’t rule it out happening at his press conference Monday, according to azcentral.com.
“Oh yeah,” the Cardinals coach said, “I think that’s a possibility.”
Gabbert, a first round bust with the Jaguars, led the Cardinals to a 27-24 victory over his former team Sunday.
“I’m really proud of him,” Arians said. “These things don’t happen. I mean, you hope they don’t happen very often when your top two guys go down. But we’re very blessed to have him and he has taken the bull by the horns and showing us, ‘I’m a player. I can play at this level and play at a very high level.’”
Granted, Gabbert played well as he completed 22 of 38 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. And he used his mobility to dodge the Jaguars pass rush, although the Jaguars got a strip sack for a touchdown.
Arians said nobody has picked up his offense as fast as Gabbert and that the quarterback has the smarts of some of the best the coach has worked with, including Peyton Manning.
“Yeah, he’s up there,” Arians said. “To play at this level in seven offenses is not easy, and he’s had success, especially in this offense. But yeah, he’s up there.”
Asked how much upside there is in the 28-year-old, Arians said: “Oh my gosh, a ton. He just has to continue to grow. He’s never been in the same offense two years in a row, so he can blossom.”
Gabbert insists he’s not looking ahead and thinking about the fact he signed a one year contract with the Cardinals and will be a free agent at the end of the season.
“No. A lot of people make big deals about going into free agency or you’re on a one-year deal, but that’s the furthest thing from any players’ mind,” he said after Sunday’s game. “The reason why we play these games is for the guys in that huddle and the guys in that locker room. Just being out there with your boys and just having fun.
“We’re like kids out there and just to be able to compete against the best athletes in the world every single play, that’s why we play. That’s why we have so much fun when we win games.”
Even if he is playing better, has Gabbert matured from the player who wasn’t a leader in Jacksonville and was disliked by some of his teammates?
Gabber gets another test Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
Unless he shows he can do it on a consistent basis long time, I remain skeptical that Gabber is the answer for the Cardinals in the future.
Still, he’s added some drama to the final five games for the Cardinals as he gets a chance to prove his skeptics – like me – wrong.