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A work in progress

Posted Aug 6, 2012

Bob Bratkowski: Gabbert offense's most improved player; passing offense a 'work in progress'

As Bob Bratkowski sees it, the improvement is undeniable.

That was the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator’s thought on quarterback Blaine Gabbert Monday morning, but Bratkowski said something else is as true a little more than a week into 2012 Training Camp:

The passing offense overall still needs work.

 “There’s no doubt -- our passing game right now is not very good,” Bratkowski said Monday between a pair of practices at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields adjacent to Everbank Field.

“It starts with the protection: drops, running routes properly. When you stand on the sidelines, a lot of times it looks like the quarterback, but I’ll be honest with you: In many cases, the quarterback’s getting fooled, or he’s under pressure and having to make decisions faster than you want him to make.

“But we’ve got time. That’s why we’re practicing. It’s a work in progress.”

Bratkowski was asked if it would be a “credible” NFL passing offense by Week 1.

“That’s the hope,” he said, smiling. “That’s the plan. That’s what we’re working at. It’s a challenge. We know it. We’re going to get them right.”

Bratkowski said Gabbert’s progress since the offseason began is significant.

“We’re seeing quite a bit of improvement on a day-to-day basis with Blaine,” Bratkowski said. “To this point, at least with the practices we’ve been through and the scrimmage, Blaine is the most improved player on offense.”

Bratkowski was asked about a period late in practice Monday in which Gabbert threw an interception with two other balls that could have been turnovers.

“Those things are going to happen in practice,” he said. “That’s why we’re out here practicing. We come out, put him in situations and he’s forced to make decisions. You learn from them, and you hope those don’t occur as you get into the game situations.”

Bratkowski said he has seen particular improvement from the second-year quarterback in the area of mechanics, a focus of Gabbert and the coaching staff this offseason.

“He’s taking the techniques and the fundamentals that we indentified when we looked at him on film from last year, and they’re showing up in the practices,” Bratkowski said. “They showed up in the scrimmage the other day and the next step is to see how they show up on a game day come Friday night.

“A lot of it is mechanical. It starts with his drop, his balance, his posture as he gets back to the back part of his drop. It finishes with his weight transfer on the throw and his body alignment on the throw.

“Those are the things we’ve been working on, and he has made great improvement in those areas.”

Gabbert completed 10 of 13 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown in the first half of a scrimmage Friday inside EverBank before throwing three touchdowns in a red-zone drill later that same night. He said being more consistent in his mechanics continues to be a focus.

“I feel great back there,” he said. “I feel very comfortable. I’m just going to keep working and getting better.”

Bratkowski on Monday echoed the thoughts of Head Coach Mike Mularkey, who on Sunday said Gabbert needed to be able to be confident in the ability of wide receivers to get open and catch the ball when a pass is accurate.

“Any quarterback in the NFL, no matter who it is – Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, any of them – they have to have guys they can count on, that they can trust to make plays for them,” Bratkowski said. “The great ones that don’t have those guys will struggle at times.

“Blaine’s no different. He has to get a trust level with some of the guys. They have to pick up their games. They’re dropping way too many balls and they’re out of position on too many routes at this point in time. That makes it difficult. He has to fight through it, because that’s what it is.

“We have to deal with that. That’s part of the maturing process.”

Asked if he was seeing improvement with his receivers, Gabbert said, “No question.”

“That’s what training camp’s for, building confidence in everybody – the offensive line, the wide receivers, the quarterback,” he said. “It’s getting the chemistry down together, so we’re all on the same page on every play, not just every other play….

“Frustration is part of the game. Drops are going to happen. Missed throws are going to happen. Turnovers are going to happen. Our job is to minimize those.”

Bratkowski said while free-agent wide receiver Laurent Robinson has shown consistency in the first nine days of camp, for the rest of the receiver group camp thus far at times has been a case of “two steps forward and one step back.”

“They show improvement, then the next day they take a step back because of whatever,” he said.

Bratkowski said some of the issues with drops could be part of the process of learning the offense. He said the coaches have installed about 90 percent of the offense, with a large amount of material being introduced each day.

“Generally, their minds are so focused and churning on what my assignments are, what the adjustments are, what my split is, what the depth is that catching gets left behind and all of a sudden a ball goes through their hands,” he said. “I think as they feel more comfortable, the consistency of catching will be better….

“There are things you can do. You have to go through a repetitive process. You have drills you do. You slow the film down. You watch their eyes. You see if they’re pulling their head out. If they don’t get it then, then you replace them. They’re working hard at it. They work their tails off trying to get it right.

“You hope the light goes on. You really do. We have to squeeze as much out of them as you can, and I think we will.”

And Bratkowski said while the process may not be as smooth or quick as might be ideal, he remains confident improvement will continue.

“Coaches, we’re perfectionists – we want it to be perfect every play,” he said. “When it’s not, we get frustrated. When it doesn’t get better as fast as you’d like it to get better, you get frustrated. In 21 years in the NFL, I get frustrated every year with different groups.

“It’s no different this year than any other year. We’ll get them right.”

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