Two's Company, Three's A Crowd

At this point in the preseason, no one knows for sure what the correct answer to the question of who the Jaguars third string quarterback will be, Quinn Gray, Tim Couch, or Lester Ricard.

Multiple choice: Who will be the Jaguars third-string quarterback? Gray certainly appears as if he's the most talented guy at this point, but nobody is completely sure how injured his ankle really is, and his $1.2 million salary doesn't help his case, especially when he is in the final year of his deal and seems headed for free agency at seasons end. Tim Couch has number one overall pedigree, but he hadn't played in a real game in nearly three years, and in his first preseason game with the Jaguars, he looked like a guy who hasn't played football in three years-- rusty, inaccurate, and scared. It may have been nerves, but I saw nothing in Tim Couch's performance Saturday that made me believe that he could play football at the NFL level. What about Lester Ricard? Ricard has looked very shaky in camp, as well as in the Jaguars scrimmage nearly two weeks ago, but he played fairly well in the preseason opener. Ricard has a minimum wage salary going for him as well as some athleticism.

I can easily make a case for or against any of the three aforementioned quarterbacks to be the Jaguars third-stringer. Gray has undeniable talent, although he's only shown it in very limited opportunities. Couch has experience, and once was a great prospect. And Ricard may have the highest upside, and he comes cheap.

What about answer "d.?" That's right, none of the above. Now before you scramble for names off "Adam Caplan's top offensive free agent quarterbacks list,"let me say that I don't have a guy that isn't on the team in mind. What if they only went with two quarterbacks instead?

The idea of only going with two quarterbacks is an intriguing one for me. One of the main advantages is that you save a roster spot for a guy who could actually help you in a real game, and the Jaguars appear to have a very talented back-end of the roster. Another advantage is that you can keep a third quarterback on your practice squad and not have to pay him the NFL minimum unless you need to call him up because of an injury. Now I know that on some rare occasions, teams have had their starting quarterback and their backup go down during the same game. But how often has that occurred? More importantly, how often have those teams that used their third-stringer won those games? If you are concerned about playing your third-string quarterback, guess what? You're in trouble, and you are probably not going to be vying for a playoff spot anytime soon.

The idea of entering the season with just two quarterbacks isn't a new one. Nearly one-third of the NFL went with just two quarterbacks last season, and many of them were successful. When head coach Jack Del Rio was asked about keeping anything other than three quarterbacks, he responded, "it could be less. It won't be any more. There are plenty of teams in the league right now that have gone to two quarterbacks. We like our guys. We don't think that'll be the case here but there are other teams that are doing that, taking that approach, so it's something you always consider."If the Jaguars do indeed try to enter the 2007 season with just two quarterbacks, they would likely go with Byron Leftwich and David Garrard. Quinn Gray would be jettisoned, and that wouldn't be a substantial loss being that the team will have to get used to life without him anyway after 2007, as he's a free agent. Tim Couch would obviously be released, and it is likely that another team won't pick him up, so he would probably be available to the Jaguars if they needed him. Finally, Lester Ricard would be signed to the practice squad, where he can learn from the coaches, and be called upon if necessary. Going with just two quarterbacks may or may not be the right thing to do, but I can't imagine that the front office would regret it much if that's the direction that they indeed choose to take.

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