Photo: David Zalubowski / AP
One of the primary concerns facing the Jaguars entering the 2007 season was the quarterback position, especially after the incumbent starter Byron Leftwich was released, and career back up David Garrard was named the starter. Initially, this was a bold, yet questionable move by Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, but so far he looks more like a genius than a clown.
“I think David is a young, talented football player that is really taking to the coaching that he is getting and developing. He’s always had a good quick release, a good quick stroke. He’s always had some escapability. I think what’s happening right now is David is gaining new confidence. I think there is more certainty in terms of his ability to go through the progressions and make the decisions. He’s always been a playmaker. When you watch him, he’s always been capable of making plays with his feet and throwing the ball. I think he has become a little more accurate and a little more certain of where he’s going to go with the ball. Again, he’s a young player. There are many young players on our football team that is working hard at the process of being a good football player. We’re going to continue to work this process. We believe he’s got the ability to continue to develop and I think we all recognize that when we stay true to how we do things, the process itself, the preparation that it takes, the details, the attention to the details, and being able to execute and do things properly gives you a chance to be successful.”--Jack Del Rio
The Jaguars have won two out of their first three games entering in and out of their bye week with the quarterback playing exceptionally well. Entering the weekend, David Garrard was ranked 7th in the NFL in quarterback rating, with a rating of 103.8. Garrard is coming off two consecutive games of over 100 quarterback rating and nearly a 70% completion percentage. Garrard is certainly playing much better than most expected. Many fans had a bad taste left in their mouths from last season, as the Jaguars finished the season with three losses, taking them completely out of playoff contention, with Garrard at the helm, until he was pulled at the half of the season finale by Jack Del Rio.
At this point in the season, David Garrard is playing fantastic. He has just one turnover, which resulted from a fumble from an unblocked Broncos defensive end. He has no interceptions and very few “near” interceptions. Simply enough, Garrard has taken care of the football and has not put the team in any dire situations.
Although his efficient play has surprised many in Jacksonville, some of the enthusiasm needs to be tapered just a bit. Garrard, while playing well in his first three games, is probably not playing as well as his 100+ rating would indicate, not to say he is playing poorly in any way, however.
Where the precautionary measures for the excitement needs to come in, is that when Garrard played in the 2006 season, Garrard was solid in his first six games, before going down the drain. Garrard had a quarterback rating of over 80 in four out of the six games. It’s not odd for a quarterback to come in early and put up good numbers, especially when he is not asked to do much. Garrard right now is being asked to manage the game. He’s thrown the ball 30 times just once so far this season, and his rating was in the 80’s and the Jaguars lost. That is not to say Garrard was the reason for the loss, it just seems when Garrard is asked to put the game on his shoulder (pun intended), his rating and completion percentage takes a considerable hit.
“He’s had some playing time, some opportunity to gain some experience. I think certainly he learned from his experiences, both good and bad. I think the most impressive thing about it for me is the way he continued to work on his trade. He was a great teammate. He conducted himself and continues to conduct himself with great class and respect for his teammates, and working hard at the process of being a good football player, and so he continued to improve. Where a lot of guys would get impatient or upset or feel frustrated at not getting it the way they want it immediately, and act differently and it would then hinder their ability to develop. I think he’s continued to do the right things, continued to be a good teammate, continued to work hard at his trade and I think he’s a better football player for it.”--Jack Del Rio.
There are still a few things David Garrard needs to show before he locks down the job of being the full time and long term starter. One of which is carrying his team back from a two score deficit. This is not to discredit was Garrard has done so far this season, it is just a warning to not place him in the Pro-Bowl yet. The Jaguars are entering the meat portion of their schedule which includes some difficult road stretches, and that will be a considerable test for David Garrard and this should give fans a real gauge of his ability.
“I think in fairness to David you have to understand what we want him to do is continue to work the process, continue to play good football. Do I think he’ll continue to play good football? Yes, I think he’ll continue to play good football. He’s a good football player.”--Jack Del Rio
Garrard is certainly deserving of the praise he is getting, but to quote a famous comedy sketch from Saturday Night Live-- “Simmer down now.” He passed the test of the first quarter of the season with flying colors, now he’s getting into the difficult chapters of class.