Let's be honest. Blaine Gabbert's NFL statistics have not impressed so far:
|2011 - Blaine Gabbert||2||80.9||17||27||63||191||95.5||7.1||1||1||5||3||1.5||.600||0||3||20|
In his first two NFL games, Gabbert has passer rating (80.9) eerily similar to David Garrard's career rating (85.8), but the 21-year-old Gabbert has all the makings of a future superstar. Remember: Garrard did not become a starter until age 28, whereas Gabbert has thus far impressed more than embarrassed in his rookie showing.
Of course, that may change. Last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) could not win against what was one of the easier teams on their very difficult schedule, the Carolina Panthers (1-2). Now, they face one of the tougher teams in the league, the New Orleans Saints (2-1).
The Saints eked out a win against the Houston Texans in Week 3, winning an offensive laser-light show, 40-33. The Saints bring a top 10 offense to town, but also one of the league's worst defenses. However, as the Texans found out, they do not seem to need too much defense.
Averaging over 430 yards per game, the Saints offense likes Drew Brees to throw and throw often. The Saints trail the Patriots only by 3 attempts, having thrown a whopping 130 passes this year -- compared to the Jaguars' league-trailing 70 attempts. Reasonably so, they are also second in the league in passing yards (1059) and touchdowns (9 TDs, tied with the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions).
Despite their love for pass plays, the Saints have only thrown two interceptions, whereas the Jaguars are tied for second in the league with five. Ironically, the Jaguars lead the league in rushing attempts with 108 (despite a not-great 3.7 yards per attempt average) and the Saints sit around 23rd in the league with 72 attempts and greater effectiveness (4.2 yard per carry).
The game plan for the Jaguars this week will be simple: Run. And run for touchdowns.
The Saints are almost invariably going to score upwards of 21 points -- unless the Jaguars can take a whole quarter of time away every time their offense hits the field. Maurice Jones-Drew needs to dominate the game. Moreover, according Football Outsiders, the Saints defense has a difficult time covering tight ends, giving Marcedes Lewis a legitimate chance to break out this week.
Week 3 Prediction: Jaguars 14, Saints 31
Expect the Jaguars to fall back early, taking away the heft of Jones-Drew's threat. This game will likely fall on Gabbert's shoulders -- and he may have some decent success against the Saints defense -- but when the game become pass-only, expect things to get ugly for Gabbert behind the line.
The Jaguars defense has been better than expected this year, but they probably just are not good enough for the Saints.
Gametime is slated for 1:00 p.m. kickoff at EverBank Stadium. Head over to Big Cat Country for more news, analysis, and commentary on the Jacksonville Jaguars.