Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew thinks QB Blaine Gabbert will be stronger as a result of the great adversity he and the team faced last season.
"All of these other QBs they try to compare him to, they had a guy that was there with them from Week One to Week 17," Jones-Drew told PFW last week on radio row in Indianapolis. "Blaine, he was dealing with different receivers ... bringing guys off the street, putting them in there to start.
"He fought through that — no complaining. We didn't protect him; we put him out there and let him learn on the fly. I think because of that, that adversity, he will be all right."
One of the few positives of Gabbert's rookie season was that he didn't lose confidence despite his significant challenges. Jones-Drew said having a full offseason to work with new head coach Mike Mularkey should allow Gabbert to make great strides in Year Two. Our sources on the scene have echoed those sentiments. Although there were few encouraging signs for Gabbert as a rookie, more continuity will be a plus.
GM Gene Smith will turn his attention this offseason to providing better offensive weapons for Gabbert. MJD said new owner Shahid Khan is ready to make a splash, and although MJD didn't want to put his GM cap on, he said he is confident the Jaguars will target the top guys in free agency. According to Jones-Drew, Khan has told the players they will have all the resources they need to be successful, and in return, the players will be held to a high standard of winning.
Jones-Drew also expressed excitement over the energy and "breath of fresh air" that Khan will provide.
"His mustache is cool," Jones-Drew said jokingly. "The way he talks is cool. The way he walks is cool. ... He is going to bring some style to the NFL. ... Mr. Khan is going to be one of those guys that people can relate to."
With Mularkey putting his staff together and Jones-Drew taking time out for the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, the two have not yet had a chance to talk. MJD said as soon as he gets back to California, he and Mularkey will have a chance to connect over the phone and get the ball rolling.