After watching Andy Dalton flounder with his second team in two years, perhaps it is time to stop the ‘Blaine Gabbert is the future face of the franchise’ talks in Tampa.
Blaine Gabbert is an excellent backup for the Buccaneers. At the end of the 2021 season, when Tampa has the number one seed in the playoffs locked up, we may actually get to see Gabbert suit up for a few games, but this is where our viewing of Gabbert should end.
Some quarterbacks are destined to be backups in the NFL. Whether you start that way or get to that point after years of being a successful starter, such as with Andy Dalton, it is essential to realize when players have reached their peak.
Trying to put someone in a position that is too monumental for their talent is how a team like Chicago ends up with a waning starter leading the offense rather than their starting-caliber rookie.
Dalton and Gabbert aren’t the perfect comparisons, but watching Dalton in Chicago right now is like looking into the future for the Bucs if they end up giving the keys to Blaine Gabbert. The valet may be great at parking your car, but do you really want them to chauffeur you around every day?
Statistically, Dalton is a dramatically better quarterback than Gabbert. Dalton was often the best part of several bad Bengals teams, and their success almost always came when Dalton was playing like a top-10 quarterback. While he was never a master of any specific skillset, Dalton was able to find impressive success with Cincinnati.
Gabbert is a few years younger and has far worse career stats, but his physical strengths are similar to Dalton’s. No one will confuse either quarterback for Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, but they are decent at a range of skills necessary for finding some success in the NFL.
Unfortunately, the time for Gabbert and Dalton to be relevant in the NFL has come and gone. Neither is athletic enough for the direction NFL quarterbacks are moving, and while Gabbert does have a mediocre arm, it still isn’t where Tom Brady’s is today.
Dalton has been anything but fun to watch for the past two seasons as a starter, and the big reason why is that he is a backup quality player right now. There isn’t anything wrong with that; he has put together a great career, but the Bears are a worse team with Dalton on the field. The Bears are starting over with a young, talented rookie quarterback, and using a stopgap only prolongs the inevitable with Fields’ development.
A stopgap quarterback like Dalton or Gabbert prevents the team from adequately addressing their primary issue. A Gabbert or Dalton may win you a few games, but that is not better than using Trask or Fields to assess what you actually have, even if that means losing games. If the rookie flourishes, great. If they don’t, you move on. One way or another, the mediocre veteran isn’t the future, so wasting time or money on them helps little.
The Buccaneers are still a few years away from having to move on from Brady, but this is still a conversation worth having. Anyone with eyes and an understanding of what Gabbert can do knows that he has reached the peak of his NFL talent, and anyone who disagrees should watch a few highlights of Andy Dalton wearing a Cowboys or Bears helmet.
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