David Garrard (Getty Images)
What can Jaguars fans expect from their quarterback this season? A little more than a year ago, the Jaguars firmly hitched the franchise’s proverbial wagon to quarterback David Garrard, as they locked him up with a six-year, $60 million contract.
Garrard was rewarded with that handsome deal following a masterful 2007 campaign in which he threw for 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions during the regular season, and finished with the number three ranking in quarterback efficiency.
Since Garrard signed his new deal, he promptly led the Jaguars to a 5-11 record in 2008, routinely coming up short in big game situations. The 30-year old signal caller’s ’08 performance has many wondering if the team wasn’t a bit reckless when they offered him the franchise’s richest contract ever after just one good season in which he was surrounded by fantastic talent.
What’s done is done, and David Garrard is the Jaguars quarterback of the present, if not the future. Although Garrard seriously underperformed a year ago, he didn’t have an ideal working environment as the team was missing three starters on the offensive line for a good portion of the year, and three of the team’s top receivers were jettisoned following the season and they still find themselves unemployed.
The team is expecting a different result in 2009, and the Jaguars have done their best to surround David Garrard with enough talent to succeed. Jacksonville spent all of it’s first-day draft picks addressing the offensive line with talented tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, as well as signing veteran offensive tackle Tra Thomas from Philadelphia.
Garrard at minicamp (Getty Images)
“I was very happy,” Garrard said about the Jaguars draft. “Every time the draft went across the screen I was just cheering. It was cool, I was very happy to see what Gene and the coaches had done, and was very thankful.”
With a desperate need for talent at the wide receiver position, the Jaguars acquired one of the best receivers in recent history in former St. Louis Ram, Torry Holt. Holt is expected to be a solid possession receiver who can mentor some of the Jaguars younger players.
“Torry, it almost feels like he’s another coach out there,” Garrard said of the talented veteran. “He’s a guy that has been around for a long time and has done it well. And he’s good at communicating with the guys, and communicating with me. So it’s good having him out there, he’s really been working with the young guys a lot, and that’s a great thing for us.”
Along with Holt, the Jaguars drafted ultra-productive collegiate receivers Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard, who will battle for playing time with the talented, yet oft-injured Mike Walker and veteran slot-receiver Dennis Northcutt.
Mike Thomas at minicamp (Getty Images)
“I see some pretty good talent,” Garrard said of his new young targets. “They’re all wet behind the ears now, but they’re showing a lot of promise just running routes and catching the ball and actually making some plays out there. I know Mike Thomas is looking pretty good, and really all of them—Tiquan Underwood and the Dillard kid—there’s all looking good. And I’m very happy to have them out here.”
With this infusion of young talent as well as veteran leadership on both the offensive line and at wide receiver, there can’t be any more excuses this year for a lack of success from the quarterback position, and David Garrard is well aware of that.
“I’ve always felt confirmed by them (the Jaguars organization), so for them to go out and do it in the draft just put another stamp of approval for me and my abilities,” Garrard said about the team’s commitment to him. “And now, just like I did two years ago, I can just go out and have fun, just go out and work with these new guys to try and get us back to the playoffs.”
With top-rated quarterbacks such as Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow, among others being available in next year’s draft, David Garrard’s play must be more reminiscent of 2007 rather than 2008 if he’s going to be the Jaguars quarterback in 2010.
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.
For more, go to: JagNation.com