ARIZONA CARDINALS

Gabbert Gabs: ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ not bitter toward Jaguars

Nov 22, 2017, 6:44 PM
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert (7) warms up prior to an NFL preseason football game a...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert (7) warms up prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Before Sunday’s tilt against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert discussed what the game means to him as he faces off against the team that drafted him in 2011.

Here, in this space, with help from the Cardinals’ media relations staff, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following practice.

On how good it feels to be running an offense and in a game:

“It was a lot of fun to get back out there. It was fun playing in the preseason, going through training camp and whatnot, but being able to run the system, be out in the huddle with the guys in a regular season game, that’s why we practice out here day-in and day-out. Just to be in the huddle with those guys on a game day, it’s a lot of fun, just the small talk in there, getting the guys going and then going out there and making plays.”

On if this game against Jacksonville means anything special:

“Yeah, that was the team that drafted me. Things didn’t work out there, but looking back on it, hindsight is always 20-20. That was a long time ago. I’ve played – this is my second team since I was there, so it’s been four years. But yeah, they’re a great team right now. They’re playing good football, but we’ll be ready to roll.”

On if he’s bitter about how his time in Jacksonville ended:

“No, not all. Everything happens for a reason. I’m a firm believer in that, and it didn’t work out there. There were things in my control, some things out of my control, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t work. I wouldn’t change it at all. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people there. It was a great town to live in, but the past is the past. I’ve moved on. I’m happy to be a Cardinal. Phoenix is a tough area to beat to live in, too, especially this time of year.”

On how he graded out after watching the film of last week’s game:

“It was pretty good. There are always things that you can learn from. A couple throws here and there, but the biggest thing that I think the offensive group took from that game was being efficient in first and second down. We were in way too many second-and-longs, third-and-longs. Third down conversation rates, there’s a pretty good correlation between that and winning football games, because that means you’re going to stay on the field longer. Anything we can do to improve on normal downs, run downs, to help us on Sunday, we’re going to do.”

On the formidability of Jacksonville’s defense:

“They’re a quality team. (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Tom Coughlin and (General Manager) Dave Caldwell have done a great job building that team, playing defense and running the football. They’ve got a good front four, the linebackers are talented, the secondary is good, but the biggest thing that when we watch them on film is that we’re going to worry about the things we can control. We know what they’re going to do, but we’ve got to worry about executing our plays versus their front, versus their secondary, and going out there and taking care of business.”

On how different he is as a quarterback compared to his first few years in Jacksonville:

“Older. I feel like I’m the same kid at heart, and I think just the maturation process I’ve gone through as a player – being in different systems now, playing in a bunch of games, going through multiple offseasons, learning new systems – I think that’s the biggest thing. When you come into the league as a young quarterback, I think I was 20 or 21, and learning system after system after system, new coach, new owner, new GM, it’s like ‘Alright, I’m trying to figure this thing out. How do I approach this learning process year-in and year-out?’ Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, I’ve had to learn a new system each and every year, and I think by this point in time, I’ve figured out how to do that, how to approach that process each and every offseason. And that’s just by working hard, busting your tail in the offseason, so that when you get into the training camps and the preseasons, it starts to become second nature and you’re not going up there trying to figure out what play you’re running. You’re going up there and reacting to what the defense is giving you.”

On if he now has a favorite offensive system:

“The one we’re in right now is awesome. There’s a lot on the quarterback’s plate, but I think that’s why we work so hard throughout the week. That’s the way we want it on game day. We want to be in control, and B.A. (Bruce Arians) trusts us to make the right decisions, identify the right fronts, get into the right plays, and it’s been a lot of fun to play in.”

On his drive to prove critics wrong:

“That really doesn’t affect any part of me. Everybody’s always going to have their opinion. Everybody’s the best Monday morning quarterback in the world, but the reality of the situation is there are 32 starting quarterbacks in the world. Those are just facts, and I’m accountable to the guys in the locker room, the coaching staff, the people upstairs, the ownership of this football team. And really, If I know that I’ve put in a good day’s work, put my best foot forward, busted my tail on game day, I can sleep well at night.”

On if it would be counterproductive to place too much weight on outsiders’ opinions:

“Yeah, you can ask the 60, 65 guys we’ve got in that locker room. I don’t think a lot of them really listen to the outside opinions. We’re in this position for a reason, plain and simple. Everybody’s a talented athlete, a great football player, a good person on and off the field in that locker room. That’s good enough for us. Everybody’s going to have their opinion, but I’m sad to say they’re not in that locker room. So, it really doesn’t matter.”

On what he saw from TE Ricky Seals-Jones and WR Chad Williams when he ran the scout team:

“Talent. Young talent. Raw talent. So, when I was with the third team, this summer and throughout training camp, it’s like, ‘Wow, 16 is popping on film, 86 is popping on film.’ Just seeing how Ricky approached each and every week on scout team, it was a lot of fun to work with him, because we would try and turn the scout team plays into our system and use our verbiage. So, even though you’re not getting practice reps being on scout team, you’re still going through that rep and that process in your mind of calling our play, and it translated. He played a heck of a game for, really, his first time being out there – two touchdowns and big time catches. And the beautiful part about it is he can still get better. He’s just a tremendous athlete, and he works his tail off.”

On how long it took him to move on from his time in Jacksonville:

“Pretty quick when I got traded to San Fran. You’ve got to move on. I had a new system to learn my fourth year going to San Fran. Years go by, living in the Bay Area, and now I’m here. I enjoyed my time there, like I said, but the past is the past. You really can’t dwell on it. You can learn from it, but I wouldn’t change anything.”

On where he lives permanently:

“St. Louis. I’m from the Midwest.”

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