There is usually some banter between teams the week prior to a rivalry game. This usually happens on…
As the Jaguars head into their fourth game of the season, the jury is still out on the question of whether quarterback David Garrard can match his level of play of last season.
That doesn't match his record of last year when he had a 103.8 passer rating after three games with three touchdown passes and no interceptions.
He finished the season with a 102.2 rating along with 18 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
And while he directed a drive that set up the game-winning field goal against Indianapolis, he needed the help of a 10-yard deflected pass and a fourth-down pass-interference penalty that kept the drive alive.
Still, as the Jaguars prepare to play the Houston Texans Sunday, he hasn't lost the confidence of coach Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio said that he feels Garrard played "very efficiently" against the Colts and "in the key moments of the game came back and made the plays to lead us to victory. He made some big third-down conversions and I thought he was very poised in a different set of circumstances and led our football team. So we'll build on that and we're proud of that."
Garrard's main job, though, against the Colts was to hand off to Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, who combined for 45 carries.
By contrast, Garrard threw only 22 passes and completed 15. But the longest play to a wide receiver was an 11-yard catch by Matt Jones.
There are some extenuating circumstances, notably the fact that opposing teams have figured out the Jaguars don't have a deep threat and don't worry about the long pass. The longest receptions to a wide receiver the last two games were 14 and 11 yards.
Garrard, though, isn't going to point that out.
"I'd never say that," he said of the problems at wide receiver and pointed the finger at himself.
"I can be more efficient myself with the ball. I'm definitely not playing at the same high intense level that I was at last year," he said.
The passing game would be helped if Jerry Porter, who's yet to play this year because of a hamstring injury, returns, but Del Rio has yet to give a timetable for his return.
He made his weekly statement Wednesday that "when he (Porter) feels good enough, we'll play him."
Another problem has been all the injuries in the offensive line.
"That makes it tough for coach to call plays that go deeper down the field because you've got to sit in the pocket a little bit longer," Garrard said. "I think the deeper and longer passes will come when the offensive line plays together and becomes more comfortable."
Complicating Garrard's situation is that expectations were raised when he signed a $60 million contract in the offseason.
He knows he's now more of a target for criticism.
"Whenever you get paid, that's going to happen. I'm not stupid. I'm not going to be naive to that fact. They (fans and media) want to see production out of that money and they want to see you be that top guy. I definitely think I'm still the same player and I could really care less about criticism and all that stuff," he said.
In a reference to the problems around him, he said, "They don't see the whole picture of everything that's happening. I'm going to be blamed for a lot of things even when it's not your fault."
When the Jaguars host the Texans in their next game Sunday, there shouldn't be too much pressure on Garrard. The Texans are 27th against the run so the Jaguars should be able to pound the ball the way they did against the Colts.
The Jaguars, who are 5-7 in 12 games against the Texans, just have to make sure they don't overlook them.
"I think maybe there were times we would see their record and think we're a pretty good team and maybe we would take them a little bit too light. I think we're wise to that now. We won't do that," Garrard said.
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