Former Jags QB Gabbert 'wouldn't change anything that happened along the way' to joining Cardinals

Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash talks about facing Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's hard to say Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert made a positive mark on the Jaguars' franchise while he was in Jacksonville.

In 2011, the team traded up to the 10th overall pick to select the then-21-year-old quarterback out of Missouri.

Despite his draft pedigree, Gabbert owns none of the major franchise quarterback career or rookie records. His only claim to fame in Jaguars history is that he owns the franchise record for worst completion percentage (50.9 percent in 2011) in a single season.

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The young quarterback was thrown into the fire immediately, despite the organization's initial stance that he would sit and learn behind veteran David Garrard. The company line lasted until the final preseason game, as Garrard was unceremoniously cut prior to Week 1 of the 2011 season.

Gabbert failed to heed the call of a franchise quarterback. He completed just 53.3 percent of his throws during his three-year stint in Jacksonville. He threw for only 22 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

As a rookie, he tied the franchise single-season record with 14 fumbles in 15 games (14 starts).

Gabbert's tenure is seen as a massive disappointment by the organization and the fan base. Taking emotions out of the conversation though, Gabbert isn't fully to blame.

Gabbert was thrown into action before he was ready. His top wide receivers were Cecil Shorts and Mike Thomas. He also played for three different head coaches in three seasons.

"It's definitely rough, especially when you're young - if you're a little bit older, it might not phase you - but your developmental years are tough on you when you're learning different systems every year," Gabbert's former teammate Chad Henne said.

Gabbert won just five games in Jacksonville. The losing, pressure and anxiety piled up. 

The Jaguars eventually needed a change.

Jacksonville pulled the plug on the quarterback's tenure, shipping him off to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick in 2014.

"Leaving there opened doors in San Francisco," Gabbert said during a conference call with Jacksonville media.

"I'm [in Arizona] now and I wouldn't change anything that happened along the way," Gabbert continued. 

"Everybody dreams of staying in one spot for an entire career, for 10-plus years, but that's almost a fairy tale now in this day and age. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people [in Jacksonville], had a great time living there but I'm extremely happy to be a Cardinal in the Phoenix area now."

The seventh-year quarterback has somewhat revitalized his career as a backup. His talent has shown up in spurts, as he has had some positive moments since leaving Jacksonville.

Gabbert has appeared in 16 games (14 starts) over the last four seasons, producing 3,251 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He has completed 60.8 percent of his passes.

"I think he's matured a lot," Henne said. 

"Just talking to him and even watching him on film, preseason and even in San Francisco, his drops in the pocket just look a lot more comfortable. [Gabbert] understands the philosophy of the pocket. Coming from the spread [offense] it was a big transition for him from college, so he had to feel that out for his first couple of years but he's done a good job."

Gabbert signed with the Cardinals this offseason to compete for the backup quarterback job during training camp and the preseason. He lost the battle to Drew Stanton, who eventually filled in for Carson Palmer earlier in the season when the former Pro Bowl quarterback suffered a broken arm.

Gabbert has since supplanted Stanton in the lineup. The former Jaguars quarterback made his first Cardinals start in last week's 31-21 loss to the Houston Texans.

The former first-round pick completed 23-of-34 passes for 257 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

On Monday, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians named Gabbert as his starting quarterback for the Week 12 matchup against the Jaguars.

"This past week, I thought he played really well," Arians said Wednesday on a call with Jacksonville media.

"[He had] a couple of interceptions to guys he hadn't thrown to much at the end of the game. He played the game to win the game for us."

Arians has faith in Gabbert. He has been a fan of the quarterback since before he entered the league. He even recalls playing against Gabbert early in the quarterback's NFL career.

"I really liked him coming out [of college] when I evaluated him," Arians said. "I remember a couple of plays he made against the Steelers, standing and getting hit in the face and throwing a touchdown a couple of times. I just liked him. As things progressed last year, we said 'Hey, let's give this guy a chance.' He came in and really lit it up for us in OTAs and played a good preseason so we kept three quarterbacks."

Gabbert is set to face off against the Jaguars' top-ranked defense Sunday. He is more concerned about that unit than a potential grudge match.

The Jaguars can produce turnovers in droves and the defensive front is a sack machine. Gabbert will need to make smart decisions with the ball this weekend.

"It's a talented defense," Gabbert said. "[General manager Dave Caldwell] and Tom Coughlin did a great job of building that defense from their front seven and the back end. They're playing great football."

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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