Jonathan Loesche wrote an article on Big Cat Country placing David Garrard on trial. In his Part I, he acted as the prosecutor and found David guilty of failing to be a big time quarterback. In fact, he found him wanting as a decent starting quarterback.
He asked me to be the defense attorney which I accepted without question. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me defend David Garrard as an excellent starting quarterback for the Jaguars.
Let’s go back to 2005. The Jaguars are 7-3 on the season when Byron Leftwich goes down. David Garrard is thrust into the starting line-up to finish the season. He goes 5-1 as a new starter and leads the Jaguars into the playoffs. Byron returns for the playoff game against the Patriots and losses the game. Would David have saved the day? We don’t know, he didn’t get the chance. Did he complain? Nope. Did he hurt the team? Nope. He remained the ever professional team player.
Let’s go to 2006. The Jaguars are 4-3. Byron Leftwich is clearly hurt but won’t come out of the game or admit his ankle hurts bad. David replaces him in an ugly QB situation. He beats the Eagles. Against Houston he throws 4 interceptions to lose a close game. Beats the Giants, leads a 14-24 comeback against the Bills, but luck was with the Bills and they kick a 42 yard FG to win. David beats Miami and then trounces the Colts 44-17. The Jaguars are back in the playoff hunt when David throws three interceptions against the Titans, two go for touchdowns in a close Jaguar loss. The season melts down and David is replaced by Quinn Grey. His career all but over. After the jump we will look even deeper.
In 2007, Byron is named the starter at the start of camp, but David outplays him and earns the starting spot. Friends of mine who played golf with him prior to the season said he never spoke ill of anyone. They prodded him and coaxed him and he did nothing but profess a belief in the team and Byron. When he took over as the starting QB, he put up a QB rating of 102.2, better than Peyton Manning’s 98 rating. He threw 3 interceptions all year. The 2007 Jaguars went to the playoffs and beat Pittsburgh for the second time at home. David sealed the victory. The Jaguars were 6th highest scoring team in the NFL.
In 2008, David was sacked 42 times and hit over 100 times. In 2009, he was sacked 44 times and hit 126 times. The offensive line was not there to protect him. His receiving corps turned over personnel constantly. There was nothing he could do as a QB except make the pro-bowl in 2009. How does a guy hit more than anyone else, with rookies guarding him and a receiving corp not settled make the pro-bowl? I will tell you why, he was recognized for his ability and the other 8 QB’s backed out. Still, David hung in there and never stopped believing in the team and himself.
Did I mention in 2009, David was 8th in the league in not throwing interceptions? David Garrard has been very coachable in protecting the ball when he throws. The problem in 2009 was that David was coached to change plays when the defense shows a certain look. Defenses caught on and baited him into changing the play. Finally, the coaching staff had to change their approach. David was so coachable, that he followed directions too well. This failure is not his, but the offensive coordinator and head coach. They should let David be David.
IN 2005, David led them to the playoffs. In 2006 he was leading them again to the playoffs and had two bad games. The coaches gave up. In 2007, he led them to the playoffs. In 2008 and 2009 he was one of the few players the team could count on. No receivers, no offensive line, only him and Maurice Jones Drew.
Do we give up on a guy who, in the Del Ro era, has been the one who got us to the playoffs? Do we give up on a guy who in two years suffered more due to the team around him than anyone else? Do we give up on a guy who believes in his team and continues to show the most professional attitude despite more questions and lack of faith than anyone else? Want the answer? No, we don’t.
In 2010, many of the problems David faced have been addressed. The offensive line should improve. The receivers are better than they have ever been. The running game is going to be strong. David is he one rock we can depend on to put it all together.
David Garrard has risen to the challenge before. He will do it again. He is a playoff winning QB and a pro-bowl QB. He will lead the Jaguars in 2010 higher than many of us expect. Just buy a ticket and come watch. You will not be disappointed.
- Terry O’Brien