Put a young quarterback on an inept team, rush him into action and terrible things will likely occur.
Former Mizzou star Blaine Gabbert is just the latest validation of this NFL axiom. He absorbed five sacks, threw an interception and lost two fumbles that led to scores in Thursday night’s 41-14 loss to Atlanta.
“I can't take those sacks, those fumbles,” Gabbert told reporters after the game. “That's completely on me.”
Well, not really -- his offensive line is patched together and his receiving corps is depleted by injuries. Gabbert was left to die as the Falcons raced to their 41-0 third-quarter lead.
“Things just kind of snowballed,” Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri told the Florida Times-Union. “It's not the result you want to have going out playing on national TV. That's the results you get when you don't execute. As for personnel, it is what it is. Guys got to play football. It's a little bit bizarre plugging in guys every week with more injuries, but you can't use that as an excuse.
“You got to be able to keep the quarterback clean. That's on the offensive line. John Abraham's a great pass-rusher and those guys feed off things he does in the passing game. Once he got his rhythm and was getting in the backfield early, that kind of throws off our quarterback and gets him in a rattled state. Any quarterback is going to get a little bit of tunnel vision once you get that type of pressure.”
Gabbert had just 22 yards passing entering the fourth quarter and at one point had more sacks suffered (five) than passes completed (four).
Up in St. Louis, Sam Bradford doubtlessly felt his pain. At least Bradford got to taste a bit of success as a NFL rookie before his football world came crashing down around him.
NOT SO RAMS TOUGH
Speaking of Bradford and the Rams, here is how CBSSports.com NFL expert Clark Judge sees our heroes:
“The Rams last season tied Seattle for first in the NFC West but lost out on a tiebreaker. OK, it happens. Wait till next year, right? That's what I thought, which is why I made St. Louis my choice to win the division. One problem: Where the Rams a year ago found seven victories with a rookie quarterback . . . they can't find more than two this season. One scout I trust told me it's the worst team he has seen in years, and, yes, he has seen Indianapolis. The Rams aren't bad on defense, but their offense can't find the end zone with a GPS. The offensive line leaks. There's a shortage of reliable receivers. There's no quarterbacks coach. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels went into the season without the weapons he needed to throw downfield. And Bradford seems to have lost his confidence. Plain and simple, they're inept. I feel for Steve Spagnuolo, but enough is enough. His record in three years is 10-35. Next.”
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Questions to ponder while wondering if the Rams can rally around Kellen Clemens and play good football:
So what is going on in Colby Rasmus World? Is anybody home?
CHRIS PAUL TO THE CLIPPERS?
This David Stern-mandated trade, on the heels of the Paul-to-the-Lakers deal he nixed, drew a mixed reaction in from media types. Here is a sampling
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: “For all the suspicions those inside and out of the league have about the motives and agendas of those running the NBA, this was an episode to turn the cynical downright despondent. You win, Clippers. You lose, Lakers and Rockets. You win Chris Paul, you lose Dell Demps. The NBA waved its wand, and everyone else lives with the consequences.”
Ian Thomsen, SI.com: “The fans were never going to be happy about Paul's departure, but this deal with the Clippers could enable their depression to be short-lived. Unless the Timberwolves undergo an entirely unexpected renaissance, the Hornets will have two lottery picks in what promises to be one of the most talented drafts in years. The pool of talent includes big men Anthony Davis of Kentucky, Andre Drummond of UConn and Jared Sullinger of Ohio State, along with North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes.”
Bill Simmons, ESPN.com: “At the very least, you have to give the Clippers credit for the following sequence: Successful Big Brother thought it was getting Chris Paul, made the trade, had the deal blocked by the NBA in one of the shadiest moments in professional sports history, was forced to trade a ticked-off Lamar Odom to its biggest rival as part of the fallout … and then, incredibly, Black Sheep Little Brother improbably swooped in and pulled off the trade. Even better, Successful Big Brother is furious about it! You can't even say the Clippers turned the tables on the Lakers; it would belittle what happened. Are we sure this wasn't part of what the Mayans predicted? Has anyone checked?”
David Whitley, FanHouse: “Did you hear that three Laker Girls defected to the Clippers on Thursday morning? Not only that, Jack Nicholson gave his courtside seats to Carrot Top. The Lakers are suddenly yesterday’s news around L.A. And yesterday’s news about Chris Paul means it’s time for the Lakers to prove they’re still the Lakers. Specifically, get Dwight Howard. The Clippers getting Paul turned that from a possibility into a must. The Lakers can certainly use Howard’s talent. Almost as importantly, they need the splash. The Lakers are supposed to be Hollywood’s team. Now the star power is shifting to the riff-raff that dresses in the broom closet at Staples Center.”
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. The target has shifted a little bit, but the only thing I’m going to promise is that you’re going to get our best every night. And when you hear `The Clippers,’ it’s not going to be a joke anymore. I can guarantee you that.”
— Clippers forward Blake Griffin, after his team acquired Chris Paul.