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Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals film preview: Don’t sleep on Big Blaine

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Blaine Gabbert doesn’t have to be good (which he’s not). He just has to do enough.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It’s Blaine Gabbert.

That’s the sentiment going into this Week 13 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals; that Gabbert is just filling in for the injury-depleted Cardinals and the Rams will come in, beat him up, and go home the victor.

That should not be the case. It could very well happen that way because anything is possible, and that’s the most-likely situation. The Los Angeles Rams bounced back from their loss to the Minnesota Vikings and are rolling again. The Cardinals haven’t won back-to-back games all season, and their team is limping into this home game.

But Gabbert could very well complete a handful of stupid passes to his receivers, get into the end-zone, and pull one over on the Rams just as he did the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s Blaine Gabbert, but anything can happen in this game.

Should the Rams sleep in this game, this is the guy who is going to send them home with a loss.

The skinny

Gabbert is 1-1 this season as a starter, and has thrown for nearly 500 yards in his to starts. He has five touchdowns and three interceptions and a 60 percent completion rate. So, he isn’t terrible.

Bread and butter

Gabbert is 22-30 when throwing the short ball, and in the last two games, a good chunk of those throws go to the tight ends in the middle of the field or on the screens.

When it comes to the tight ends, the success is due to simply taking advantage of soft coverage. Of the last two teams, the Jaguars (who have the No. 1 passing offense) would often ignore the tight ends and Gabbert would make the easy completion.

This means MLB Alec Ogeltree will most likely be taken advantage of on Sunday. Ogeltree is bad against the run, and a tight end running a route across the middle will be an easy throw all day for Gabbert.

Success where there shouldn’t be

Gabbert isn’t terribly accurate on throws beyond the 10-yard box, but every once in awhile, he will get a completion where there shouldn’t be. Threading the needle is putting it lightly. On some passes, he’s threading the pupil of an eyeball.

Gabbert doesn’t have many options here, other than maybe rolling out to his left and getting a few yards. Or, in this case, throwing to a receiver who is carrying a defensive back on his hip with another back closing in.

Again, Gabbert looks like he’s tossing a beer can into the trash with this pass to a WR Larry Fitzgerald who has a defensive back riding his back. Still caught. It’s easy to say “cuz Fitz”, but the completions go beyond Fitzgerald. Gabbert spreads the ball around nicely and doesn’t use Fitzgerald as a crutch.

It’s amazing how Gabbert only has three interceptions (so far).

Put your hands up

During the Jaguars game, Gabbert got three passes blocked by defensive linemen throwing up the hands when he was trying to throw the screen. Two of them went straight into the air and were prime opportunities for easy interceptions. Never underestimate the power of simply raising your hand.

Luck swings both ways

The Houston Texans and Jaguars defense got lucky on a lot of throws that would have either gone for a big gain, touchdown, or kept the drive alive.

Gabbert is painfully inaccurate beyond the 10-yard box, and misses easy completions.

During the Texans game, Gabbert would make throws to Fitzgerald that should not have been catches.

One play in particular was around a 28-yard touchdown. Gabbert steps back and throws while Fitzgerald is in coming into contact with the corner, pushes off, and catches the ball a half-second later, then runs it in.

Yet, on this play, Gabbert cannot handle a wide-open Fitzgerald in mid-step. It would have been a huge game and could have changed the game, one they would eventually lose.

Keep eyes in the present

This is a trap game. The Rams have the Philadelphia Eagles next week at home and it’s going to be the biggest game they play all season (how many times have we said that). It’s easy to go into Arizona thinking the Rams will come back to LA with their 9th-win.

Los Angeles cannot sleep on Gabbert. Doing so left the best pass-defense dumbfounded.