Making the most of his second consecutive start, Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Blaine Gabbert continued his campaign for his future with the franchise.
Two starts, two impressive performances from the 7th-year man out of Missouri. Albeit Gabbert is starting due to an injury to both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, he’s certainly taken advantage of the opportunity. Somewhat of a blessing in disguise, Gabbert is making a strong case for being the Arizona Cardinals quarterback of the future.
The Cardinals, coming into 2017, seemingly did not have an heir apparent to Carson Palmer. The club looked prepared to ride out the year with Palmer and back up Drew Stanton and take their chances in the 2018 draft, or through free agency for their signal caller of the future.
All that changed on Oct. 22 in London when Palmer was lost to a broken arm, courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams. Drew Stanton entered in relief and looked unimpressive. Subsequently, Stanton was also loss to injury after spraining his knee against the Seattle Seahawks.
Blaine Gabbert would now have his opportunity to resurrect his career in the desert. A career, his head coach Bruce Arians said, was the result of being “on some really sh–ty teams.”
In his two starts, Gabbert has completed 61.1 percent of his passes, thrown for 498 yards, tossed 5 touchdown passes and has rushed for 30 yards.
On Sunday, versus the Jags, Gabbert was quite benevolent with his pass distribution as well. He completed passes to 10 different receivers. His favorite, it seems, would be rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones.
The 22-year-old Texas A&M product now has 7 career receptions — three of which are touchdowns courtesy of Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert also demonstrated on Sunday something this club so desperately needed in a season gone awry — resilience. After losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by former Cardinal, Calais Campbell, Gabbert took control and marched his team down the field to take back the lead.
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A 52 yard play-action bomb that sailed to the open Jaron Brown put the Cardinals up 24-17 after a successful 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter.
His second act of redemption came after a devastating interception late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Jaguars to tie it up at 24. The next drive stalled after Bruce Arians decided to punt on 4th and 1, giving the Jags the ball back with 1:14 left in the game.
After a questionable coaching decision by Jags’ head coach Doug Marrone to throw the ball on second down, stopping the clock, the Cardinals got the ball back with no timeouts and 16 seconds left in the game.
Gabbert looked calm and collected as he completed passes of 10 and 12 yards, respectively. The latter, a toe-tap effort from running back D.J. Foster. The catch put the Cardinals on the 39 yard line and set up what would be kicker Phil Dawson’s longest of his career.
The kick to win the game against a division leader doesn’t happen without the efforts and resiliency of Blaine Gabbert.
There were many questions regarding the future of the franchise at the quarterback position. But with his recent performances, and late game heroics, it seems as if the Cardinals have found their man.
He’ll look to add his name to the list of quarterbacks to revitalize their careers in the desert, just as Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer once did before him. The upside in this case: Gabbert is much younger than they were when they arrived. At just 28-years-old, Gabbert is a viable long-term solution for this football club.
And living now close to the city named after the mythological bird, Gabbert will look to rise just like a phoenix from the ashes, and get his career back on the right track.