Blaine Gabbert has an opportunity to quiet the naysayers in Houston

Nov 18, 2017, 7:00 PM
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert (7) works against the Atlanta Falcons during the secon...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert (7) works against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

After five preseason season games, the Arizona Cardinals decided that Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert would remain on the active roster. This was a change from previous years where the 53-man roster only featured two quarterbacks.

Gabbert performed well in offseason workouts and training camp, which then carried over to the preseason where his QB rating of 76.6 was the highest of any of the four signal callers that saw action.

“I’ve been very pleased,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said of Gabbert in August. “Short-term, I’d be very comfortable if he had to play for us. Long-term, if he continues at this rate, he could be a starter.”

Fast-forward to November and Gabbert will have an opportunity most third-string quarterbacks don’t get.

With regular starter Carson Palmer on injured reserve, and backup Drew Stanton nursing a sprained knee, Gabbert will start for the Cardinals Sunday against the Houston Texans.

When it comes to Gabbert, “intriguing” is a common term heard from the Cardinals. If he plays well he could be in the picture next year, possibly competing for a starting position or a backup role if Palmer returns.

Arians has seen significant growth in Gabbert since he was signed by the Cardinals in May.

“Just his understanding of what we do and how we do it,” Arians said, when asked about the areas in which he’s seen growth. “You have to learn the protection schemes, to know your hots and sights. That’s the hardest thing for all quarterbacks is to find those things, especially when teams get exotic blitzing-wise.

“Once you’re comfortable with that and you know your system, you can pretty much just go back and play.”

Gabbert becomes Arizona’s third starting quarterback this year, making the Cardinals the first team to have three different starters this season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Gabbert logged 67 pass attempts and ended the preseason schedule ranked 29th among quarterbacks with an adjusted completion percentage of 76.6 percent.

Gabbert has shown potential to perform under pressure. Since 2015, Gabbert’s passer rating of 49.7 and completion percentage of 46 is higher than Stanton’s, who has a 31.5 passer rating and 29.3 completion percentage.

Additionally, Gabbert has shown promise on the road. In his past six starts away from home, he has thrown seven touchdowns and just three interceptions.

With better coaching and overall talent around him, Gabbert has an opportunity Sunday make people start forgetting about his 9-31 career record despite being a high first-round pick in 2011.

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