How has free-agent QB Blaine Gabbert adjusted so far to the Arizona Cardinals? (Michael Chow/azcentral sports)

If Bruce Arians had any concerns about Blaine Gabbert memorizing the playbook, he should have been with reporters when the Cardinals’ newest quarterback was asked if he could name all the offensive coordinators he’s had during his half-dozen years in the NFL.

Gabbert rattled them off like they were standing right in front of him.

“Dirk Koetter, Bob Bratkowski, Jedd Fisch, Greg Roman, Geep Chryst and Curtis Modkins,” Gabbert said upon completing his first official practice with the team last week.

He forgot the partridge in the pear tree, but he does have two new names to add to the list: Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and Arians, who actually is the one calling the plays on offense.

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Arizona becomes Gabbert’s third team following three years in Jacksonville, which drafted him 10th overall in 2011, and three years in San Francisco, where he won only four games as a starter. He was benched five games into last season in favor of Colin Kaepernick, who can’t find a job.

That Gabbert found one with the Cardinals was an eyebrow-raiser, not only because the team has its starter, Carson Palmer, and its backup, Drew Stanton. Arians apparently has been intrigued with Gabbert since the quarterback’s college days at Missouri and has publicly compared him to Tim Couch, one of the coach’s all-time favorites.

Arians believes that, like Couch, known best for his five years of getting beaten down as quarterback of the Cleveland Browns from 1999-2003, Gabbert, 27, has been a product of his environment. The lack of protection and talented offensive weapons at each of his first two NFL stops have stunted Gabbert’s abilities.

It’s the easiest way, Arians has said, to explain Gabbert’s 9-31 career record as a starter.


azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Bob McManaman weigh in on the Cardinals’ signing of Blaine Gabbert.

“He’s a pocket passer. That’s where he was at his best in college,” the coach said. “He is a hell of an athlete, which you can see when he was running the spread-option thing last year. He’s got velocity, he’s got accuracy and he’s got stature. He’s had, what, six offensive coordinators? So he has some knowledge of football, having learned all those things. It’s just fitting into the system.”

That, and finding consistency.

Whether he can find it on a one-year contract seems doubtful. And how he can impress enough to warrant an extension while serving as the team’s No. 3 quarterback – which is what he will be until at least the start of training camp, according to Arians – seems just as unrealistic.

But imagine if the 6-foot-4 Gabbert ever did have any consistency. Just the thought of that made him start to smile.

“Consistency is huge in any profession, whether it’s football, baseball, basketball or a job in the real world,” he said. “When you have a consistent surrounding cast, a consistent coaching staff, that’s going to kind of breed throughout the organization. So I just haven’t been fortunate enough to have that. But I’m always looking for it and that’s what they have here. They have a consistent staff and B.A. has done a great job building this team.”

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As for confidence, Gabbert said he’s never lacked any of it. But it’s hard to get any of that without any consistency, either. Sometimes, it just takes the right fit, says Palmer, who adds that he’s looking forward to working with Gabbert.

If they all help each other along – Palmer, Stanton, Gabbert and the other two quarterbacks on the roster, Zac Dysert and undrafted rookie free agent Trevor Knight – maybe the position will be in good hands.

“We’re all in this locker room for a reason,” Gabbert said. “We’re all football players. We’re all entirely motivated and entirely driven and that’s what pushes us – to chase success, to chase greatness. We love this job, we love playing ball.”

Learning his seventh system in seven years might sound unreasonable, but it’s nothing new for Arizona’s newest signal caller. Besides, Gabbert already digested the brunt of Arians’ complicated playbook and now it’s just a matter of getting the additional reps to make it feel second-nature.

Gabbert will get plenty of reps this week during the Cardinals’ second round of workouts and practices at organized team activities.

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“The more reps you get, the easier it becomes,” he said. “The beautiful thing about football is that there’s only so many concepts you can run. It’s really just the verbiage. As long as you paint the picture in your head, and learn the new verbiage, you’ll be all right.”

Gabbert isn’t looking ahead. He said that for now, he’s only “competing against myself” and that he has no designs on trying to leapfrog Stanton or view himself as Palmer’s eventual successor. That will all get sorted out much, much later.

In the meantime, he’s borrowing a page from Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu and trying to tune out all the noise.

“Everybody’s going to have their opinion,” Gabbert said, “but at the end of the day, I’m accountable to the guys in this locker room, the coaching staff and the guys upstairs (in the front office).”

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Reach McManaman at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.


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