Blaine Gabbert Preseason Game 4 In-Depth Breakdown

Written by Eric Stoner on September 9, 2011


Fourth Drive (1:36 left in 4th quarter)







– 20 personnel, Splitback Shotgun


– Rams in Cover 3 pre-snap. SS rotates over the top as FS creeps down into the box.


– Similar zone blitz to earlier. Rams overload weakside of the formation with a LB and FS blitz. LDE drops into a shallow underneath zone.


– 5 step drop. X receiver runs a deep out. Z and slot WRs run posts.


– Gabbert has his choice between the two post routes. Both WRs do a good job at establishing inside leverage on their defender and come open on their breaks.


– Gabbert overstrides slightly, tilts his shoulders upfield (again, slightly). The RDE also gets a hand on him, but it looks like it’s after his release. The ball is a little high and behind the WR, but ultimately catchable (this is the NFL after all). WR jumps and gets both hands on it – showing good body control, but he can’t maintain possession through hitting the ground. Not going to blame this one solely on his mechanics (although it was an issue), because the drop is the WR’s fault more than anything. However, if he stands upright and throws that downhill, the WR has a ton of room to pick up YAC (provided he makes the catch first).





– 20 personnel, Splitback Shotgun


– Rams in Cover 4 pre-snap. CBs off and facing QB. Nickel CB splitting difference between tackle and slot WR.


– Post-snap Rams are actually running a combo Cover 2. LCB and Nickel CB are playing man to the field (wide side), while the RCB, FS, and WLB are playing a soft Cover 2 to the boundary (short side).


– Z runs a post and slot WR comes underneath him running a dig. X receiver runs a corner, and the RB leaks into the flat instead of pass protecting.


– Looks like he wants to go to the slot post again early. Nickel CB does a better job at getting underneath leverage and into the throwing lane.


– Scans back to the left after deciding he doesn’t want the post. Looks like combo coverage confused him – he double clutches and settles on the RB flat pass.


– Overall not a bad decision, though, as the defense is conceding the flat to that side. But there’s potential for more there. The RCB, playing soft Cover 2, trails the X receiver until the flat is threatened (he starts reacting up during the double clutch). I can’t see the safety’s positioning, but covering a corner route from the hash is pretty difficult as the WR will likely have underneath leverage upon his break. Also note that the Z receiver running a dig comes open as well.





– 11 personnel, (3×1), TE flexed, Shotgun


– Rams in Cover 4 pre-snap. Both safeties deep, CBs off, Nickel splitting difference between the TE and slot.


– Z and X run streaks, TE runs down the seam. Gabbert throws an out to the slot WR, but the WR breaks in. Most likely an option route. Slot WR hesitates off the line to read Nickel CBs leverage. Gabbert does good job realizing Nickel has inside leverage on the slot and throws the out. Slot WR misreads coverage and runs an in. I’m not 100% positive, though.





– 11 personnel, (3×1), TE flexed, Shotgun


– Rams in Cover 4 pre-snap. Both safeties deep, CBs off, Nickel splitting difference between the TE and slot.


– TE and Z are both doing run-off patterns to draw defenders deep. Concept is a cross between the slot WR and the X. Slot WR runs a drag, X runs a dig. WLB in a bind with WRs behind and in front of him running opposite directions. He hesitates when the drag crosses his face, opening a window for the deeper X dig route.


– Overstrides again and ball is thrown slightly behind WR. Nice adjustment. Good velocity on a throw going into a very small window.





– 11 personnel, (3×1), TE flexed, Shotgun


– Rams in Cover 4 pre-snap. Both safeties deep, CBs off, Nickel splitting difference between the TE and slot.


– 5 step drop from the shotgun – camera stays w/the deep drop, so I can’t see the routes.


– LDE gets pressure off the edge. He shakes the LDE, and escapes through the front door of the defense instead of running laterally. Picks up seven yards and gets out of bounds to stop the clock. As he gets more experienced, hopefully he’ll look to reset his feet and make a throw downfield (other than the immediate pressure off the edge, the pocket is otherwise clean).





– 11 personnel, (3×1), Stacked WRs, Shotgun


– Rams in Cover 4 pre-snap


– Can’t see the routes, but defense concedes the flats. Hits the RB for a first down. RB gets out of bounds and stops clock.


After that play, there’s only eight seconds left and the Jags run a few hail mary’s that are incomplete.


Showed a ton of progress in this game. Overstriding is still causing an issue with his accuracy, but it’s not as profound as he’s making an effort to stand tall and throw downhill. Showed more comfort in the pocket, too. Play 11 is an example of how to be a successful NFL QB. He doesn’t immediately check down to the open drag, he shows patience in letting the deeper routes develop, he steps into the pocket and makes a great throw right before getting hit. That’s good stuff and incredibly encouraging.


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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