Blaine Gabbert Preseason Game 1 In-Depth Breakdown

Written by Eric Stoner on August 18, 2011


– 3rd and 14
– 11 Personnel, Split Gun (TE lined up as FB)
– Pats 2 deep w/off man coverage outside. CBs are playing off, signifying either a very soft 2-man under defense or Cover Four. Corners’ heads immediately turn to face QB on snap and they bail in coverage. Cover 4.
– 1st non-PA pass. 3 step drop from shotgun.
– LT75 stops his feet and lunges at RDE. Misses and gives up pressure + hit after release.
– Routes: backside X 15 yard stop(?), Slot 10 yard out, Z Comeback
– Good example of poor pre-snap recognition. Upon recognizing zone coverage, he needs to know that he has a disadvantageous matchup with the X, because the OLB on his side will (and does) have immediate underneath leverage in the zone. Instead, he should look to the two WR side. With the CB playing deep third, he has a two-on-one matchup: the nickelback is responsible for both the slot out and the Z comeback.
– Pass overthrown. Can’t tell for sure if it’s just a poorly thrown ball or getting hit after the his release alters the trajectory of the throw.


– 11 Personnel, Gun, 2 x 2
– Pats in Cover 1 pre-snap. OLB splitting difference between flexed TE and slot WR, nobody lined up directly over slot, plus difference in safety depth gives it a Cover 3 look. However, the Corners give it away. Up in WRs faces, not facing QB, etc. Cover 1.
– 3 step drop from gun. Rushes checkdown to covered RB. Miscommunication on route or terrible throw. Take your pick.
– No pressure, but he happy dances in the pocket and throws the checkdown without ever going to another read. Look at slot WR standing all by himself because he’s manned up on a safety playing 15 yards off.


– 3rd and 7
– 11 Personnel, Gun, 2 x 2
– Pats in Cover 1 Presnap. Strong side playing off coverage, weakside playing press.
– Routes: Z shallow cross, TE dig, Slot out, X streak (decoy).
– Primary reads: Slot out (if separation). Secondary read is TE running dig. Z shallow cross gets underneath LB s in robber zone to bite up, leaving TE open on dig against a safety playing well off.
– Gabbert throws a perfect out: on target, with excellent velocity. No arc whatsoever. In a spot where only WR can catch it. Unfortunately, the pass is dropped. Almost a perfectly executed offensive play.


– 11 Personnel, 2 x 2, Under Center
– Pats 2-deep pre-snap. Corners’ eyes turned inside to QB. LCB starts bailing pre-snap, FS starts rolling up, indicating Cover 3.
– SLB jumps TE drag instead of reading Gabbert’s eyes, gaining depth/width in his drop towards the sideline/outside WR, and getting in throwing lane. Gabbert opens right, drops, and hits first read (Z out). Ball released slightly late, and he could have raised the RPMs on the out, but it’s an easy throw/read/catch.


– 3rd and 6
– 11 Personnel, 3 x 1, TE Flexed, Shotgun
– Pats in 2-man press pre-snap.
– LT, RG, RT all beat. No chance on play. Evades first rusher, but D does good job at cutting off escape routes.
– Considering it’s a 5-step drop and the WR routes all look pretty deep (can’t see them) I’ll put the blame on this one solely on the offensive line.


– 21 Personnel (Bunch formation w/FB lined up as inside slot. Motions across formation and lines up as Wing to make it 2 x 2)
– Pats in Cover 1 press Pre-Snap
– Routes: fade-stop mirror. Outside guys are running coverage off deep, tight ends are running 5 yard stops.
– Completes underneath stop to TE86 at the top of his 3-step drop.
– Problem: he opens up and never looks away from the TE stop. Poor read based on pre-snap coverage. Linebacker has him in man, there’s another backer floating in a zone in that area, PLUS the safety is playing as a robber in the area. He rifles it in there, but, again, against a starting defensive unit, that’s going to be an incredibly tough and dangerous throw to make.
– Watch how the defenders read his eyes almost immediately on his drop and start floating that way. And then notice the single coverage on the outside fades and on the stop FB33 runs. The only receiver with more than one man around him is the one he throws to.


– 3rd and 3
– 11 Personnel, 2 x 2, Gun
– Defense in Cover 1 Press again pre-snap.
– Strong side read: TE is running deep to clear out space for Z in.
– Based on when the route breaks, it looks like this should be a 3 step drop instead of 5. Also notice how the footwork gets choppy and frenetic for the last two steps, when he should be stepping up and releasing. Leads to a mis-timed and overthrown ball.


– 21 Personnel (FB split out as backside WR off LOS), 2 x 2
– Defense in Cover 1 Press pre-snap. FS walks out and plays off-man on FB33.
– Routes: FB33 (Joker Z) 10 yard stop, Slot streak, TE chips and releases to flat, Z slant and go
– Z gets jammed and re-routed on the slant and go. Gabbert is locked onto the target and takes the sack. Note, too, how the SS is not in the picture (likely playing deep middle).
– Upon seeing the jam and re-route on the Z and the SS playing deep middle, he needs to immediately go backside and check the stop or throw the pass away. Instead, he pump fakes the slant at the top of his drop, tries to drop back more, and takes the sack.


– 3rd and 15
– 10 Personnel, 3 x 1, Gun
– Defense showing Cover 3 pre-snap. Corners are all in bail technique, SS rolls down into box to the weak side of the formation.
– Defense brings 3 (7 man rush) w/ off man coverage across board
– Routes: X stop, H in, Y streak, Z comeback
– “Take your pick” type of play – every route is open.
– Gabbert opens up looking at Z stop, locks on, completes pass.
– Ball is thrown short because he throws off back foot despite there being no pressure at all. Step up into the pocket and fire the ball.
– When he’s more comfortable in the offense and in the pocket he needs to open up to the X, step up and throw the backside cross to H or comeback to Z.


– 11 Personnel, 3 x 1, TE split as backside X (Lewis Joker package)
– Pats in Cover 1 again pre-snap. LB walks out with TE/X Joker. SS lined up in off-man against Y slot.
– Again, opens up and locks onto the backside WR running a skinny-post (this time it’s the TE split out as a Joker X).
– Doesn’t step into throw again. Ball underthrown again. This time, the TE can’t bail him out on the underthrown ball. Incomplete w/drop. Likely caught if Lewis is in game, but still, he must step up and make that throw on target and with velocity instead of low and behind.


– 10 Personnel, 3 x 1, Gun
– Pats showing Cover 3/Off Cover 1. Corners in bail technique and playing way off. Staggered safety depth.
– Pretty much the same play/look by both offense and defense as play 14. Off man coverage. Safety blitzes upon realizing RB staying in to protect.
– Locks onto H and throws the “in” this time.
– Can’t tell for sure if completed. Throws off back foot without stepping up for third play in a row – as a result, ball thrown behind and low with the WR needing to make an adjustment (third play in a row this happens). No pressure. Getting uncomfortable with his space in the pocket even though he has plenty of it.


– 11 Personnel, 3 x 1, Gun w/TE wing
– Pats in man-press pre-snap. Can’t tell if it’s a 2 deep or 1 deep look.
– X runs out. Z runs post. TE and FB chip and release. Slot receiver runs an in but falls down.
– Z beats CB inside and has inside/underneath leverage on the CB/S for the post. Perfect release/route.
– Gabbert locks on and releases at perfect time. However, he overstrides in his delivery and raises his back foot up (throwing his body off balance). Result is a bad, bad overthrow that’s also behind receiver. No pressure on play – he absolutely has to make this throw.


18. FB screen pass. Holding penalty. Broken play.


– 11 Personnel, 3 x 1, Gun w/TE Wing
– Pre-snap looks like Pats are in Cover 1 Off or Cover 3. Corners playing way off and looking inside at QB, signifying that it’s likely Cover 3.
– Typical Flood pattern w/ waggle protection (pocket moves w/QB). Slot runs Corner, Z runs quick out.
– Progression: if LCB bails to get back into his deep zone (he does), throw the out. Good, easy read and good on-target throw on the move.


– 3rd and 5
– 11 personnel, 2 x 2, under center
– Pats in Cover 1 man-press. SS rolls up.
– Broken protection + holding + throw away. Good job at throwing away under duress, but penalty on the hold. Broken play.


– 3rd and 15
– 11 Personnel, 3 x 1, Gun w/TE wing
– Pre-Snap: SS rolls down weakside. Cover 1 press.
– Slot runs dig, Z runs post corner, X runs deep out(?)
– Possible miscommunication on route, because he throws it right to FS in the middle of the field (no receivers in area at all)
– Locks onto where he wants to throw. Needs to be patient. Look at the Z post-corner running wide open because the safety sits on the slot receiver’s route knowing that he won’t be looked off.


Overall, he looked very good early when they were warming him up with easy PA pass reads. As the game wore on, he got less and less comfortable in the pocket, and his mechanics failed him over his last few throws.


Eric Stoner

Eric has been writing for Draft Breakdown for two years now, contributing by writing scouting reports, cutting video, and blogging about college football and the NFL. He was raised by a football coach and, as such, was forced to cut tape and chart personnel at an age that violates California labor law. A legal assistant by day, Eric also writes for Rotoworld NFL Draft and the SB Nation Jaguars Blog, Big Cat Country.

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