Wayne Weaver (Oscar Sosa/AP)
The Jaguars went out and committed big money this past offseason to secure the quarterback position, head coach, and to get a playmaking wide receiver and starting corner. With a 4-9 record after 13 games and the team firmly entrenched in last place, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver must be rethinking last seasons spending spree.
The Jaguars were quick to proclaim David Garrard the quarterback of the present and future following his fantastic 2007 campaign in which he finished third in the NFL in passer rating and threw 18 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. The result of his one good season was a six-year, $60 million contract. Armed with the newfound confidence and security of his deal, Garrard has underwhelmed in 2008 and regressed in recent weeks. The Jaguars signal caller has held the ball too long, thrown into coverage, and shown an inability to go through his reads. The results have been 11 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, six fumbles, and a pedestrian 80.9 quarterback rating.
“I’m going out and competing in the same way, every day, every week, every game,” Garrard said. “I’m not doing anything different, and there is nothing different with the backs and receivers. We just have to execute better. That’s what it boils down to. I have to get the ball out of my hands, and put the ball in better spots for my receivers. Everybody else has to do their job too. It does start with me.”
The Jaguars are now stuck in a position where the starting quarterback that they’re financially committed to doesn’t resemble a player that can bring a team to the playoffs, and they may have to start from scratch.
“We’re going to have to take a good, hard look at it,” Del Rio said of his offense. “I don’t have an answer for you right now.”
As for the head coach, Jack Del Rio had just one losing season in his tenure with the Jaguars entering 2008 and last year he seemingly made all the right moves, starting with the quarterback switch. This season, Del Rio’s gambling ways haven’t paid off much, as the team has failed to convert on several fourth downs, and they’ve failed to convert numerous surprise onside kick opportunities, leaving the defense behind the proverbial eight ball.
Veteran players have appeared to be at odds with the way Del Rio has handled things in his “my way or the highway” approach. Over the past few years, Del Rio has embarrassed veterans Deon Grant, Marcus Stroud, Byron Leftwich, and most recently Mike Peterson. The results in 2008 have been a team that was talented enough and thought of by many as a Super Bowl contender turned into a last place group who has at times given up. With Del Rio’s contract extension prior to 2008, it’s not likely that he will be going anywhere anytime soon.
The Jaguars believed wide receiver Jerry Porter would be a field-stretching playmaker who can help propel David Garrard to the next level. The results have been less than spectacular, as Porter missed the first five weeks of the season with a hamstring injury, and he and Garrard have never seemingly been on the same page. Porter has been able to get open, but has had issues with drops this year. On the season, he has just 11 receptions for 181 yards and a touchdown, hardly what the Jaguars thought they were getting when they signed him to a $30 million deal.
Finally, the Jaguars thought they could fix their secondary by signing former Chargers cornerback Drayton Florence. They initially handed Florence the starting cornerback job opposite the now injured Rashean Mathis, and moved Brian Williams to strong safety. As Florence was abused on a weekly basis at the start of the season, he was forced to the bench and Williams returned to his corner position. Jacksonville gave Florence roughly $12 million in guaranteed money which is very rich for a nickel corner.
Just with the contracts to Garrard, Porter, and Florence, and the new deal Del Rio received, the Jaguars committed nearly $150 million dollars. Sure, it doesn’t appear as if Garrard, Florence, and Porter will see the end of those deals, but the point is that Wayne Weaver committed a ton of money to get virtually no return. The money that Weaver put out is magnified by the poor economy and the small market that Jacksonville is, and is now magnified by struggling ticket sales which are certain to be an issue next year.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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