David Garrard (Getty Images)
Before any team starts a season, there are always a handful of questions to answer. How will the quarterback play be? Will your top players stay injury free? Does your team have enough depth to overcome injuries?
There is seemingly an endless list of questions that coaches, fans, and journalists alike will have about every team before a season begins. Usually, the more times you say “yes” the better. What really instills confidence though is when there aren’t even questions to answer.
There’s an old saying I like to refer to this team a year; “The less questions you have about a team, the better they will probably be,” or something like that. Of course, there are always teams that answer those questions (a la the 2007 Giants, who went from a mediocre team to Super Bowl champs). While there are teams that will rise from the ashes, it’s usually a safe bet to believe in a team that doesn’t have any huge questions regarding key personnel, injuries, and experience.
With all that in mind, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of questions and “ifs” that must be worked out. They absolutely should not be ruled of contention before the season even begins, but a position-by-position breakdown reveals that there’s an abundance of “ifs” an questions floating around out there. To further analyze how confidence fans should be of the team, we’ll take a look at each position’s positives, lingering questions and how the position should perform. We will follow this with an overall confidence level, running from 0-10, 10 being the highest.
Pressing Question: Can David Garrard return to his 2007 form?
Breakdown: David Garrard might have caught more heat than he deserved last season. He accumulated over 3,600 yards through the air and 15 touchdowns, but also had 13 picks. His 81 QB Rating was just one point lower than Mark Brunell’s in 1999, when the team went 14-2 and had a lot more talent around him. That’s what happens when you get a $60 million contract. Now at 31-years of age, Garrard will have more pressure on him than ever and there will be expectations for him to get his rating closer to where it was in 2007 (102.2). While Garrard wasn’t awful last year, he must show more consistency in 2009. He seemed hesitant for a greater part of the season and too often missed open receivers. Being 15 lbs. lighter should help some, as Garrard ballooned up after he signed his contract last offseason. The depth behind Garrard is a problem, as the team’s top backup, Todd Bouman, is 36 and has only attempted 230 passes in his career.
The Big If: If Garrard can manage the game better, like he did in 2007, then the Jaguars should thrive with a more efficient offense intact. If he doesn’t then the Jaguars will need to rely on an explosive running game and a strong defense.
Our Call: Given that Garrard has seemingly taken this offseason more seriously than last year, there’s a good chance he can improve on his 81 QB Rating. Don’t expect him to necessarily put up All-Pro numbers, but Garrard should have more help around him than last year and that will pay off. Still, Garrard has not shown that he is a consistent threat in this league and if he goes down with an injury, depth is a major concern.
Confidence Level: 6
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