When the Jacksonville Jaguars shafted Quarterback David Garrard last football season by firing him a few days before the season opener, I was not a happy camper. Garrard was due a large bonus on his contract, and taking into account the excessive number of hits he took due to an ineffective Offensive Line, as well as all the blown routes/dropped balls by an inept receiving corps, he earned that last year on his contract. Even though the Jags had drafted a Quarterback with the 10th pick in the first round, they continued to promise David he would be the starter. Even though his play was not so good in the pre-season, I took former owner/Shoe Magnate Wayne Weaver‘s, General Manager Gene Smith’s, and coach Jack Del Rio‘s word that Garrard was their man, he would be the starter. They even had a big get together of all the movers and shakers, asked Garrard to speak, and told him once again he would be the starter. They even went so far the same day as to tell the local Newspaper, The Florida Times Union Garrard was definitely the starter. Big mistake on my part, the fans, the Newspaper, and Garrard for believing them. Looking back at the sale, I can see where Wayne Weaver, the shoe fairy, would have wanted to pocket those millions instead of keeping a man he promised a job, on the roster.
We found out after the season started how woefully unprepared our back up Quarterback, Luke McCowan was, and just how far our rookie, Blaine Gabbert, would need to go in order for him to be a solid asset for the team. The lockout did not help any of the players, especially the rookies. The rookies paid a very high price because they had absolutely no training camps, no OTAs, as well as the precious hours of work required to get them playing at a competitive level in a league full of elite players. The National Football League is nothing like college. A player cannot go from the college game into an NFL game and play at a high level no matter how great they played in college. The level of play in the NFL is much more tougher, and mentally demanding than in college. As for the backups, no matter how long they have played, they need those same activities the rookies need due to the lack of play time/reps they get in the regular season. The lockout created a situation where these players, the rookie QBs, and the backup QBs came out playing flat. The preseason was not enough to get them going at peak proficiency. They needed the off-season workouts, training camps, etc because they just do not get the reps, in the regular season practices, to get them playing at a high level. This is what happened to the Jaguars Quarterback position last year. The lockout was the reason why Gabbert was slow to develop, and the backup, Luke McCowan did not pan out.
If ever there was a reason, or reasons to hang onto Garrard one more season, the lockout was it. It was a no brainer. Even hurt he could have given these men valuable advice, and insight about their position, and the opponents they were facing. David Garrard would have worked with the Jags on some type of contract arrangement, if they would have been honest with him, from the get go. After all, as we all found out a few weeks after he was fired, he needed back surgery, and surely he could have used the teams sports rehab facilities to get back to form. Had he been kept on the roster, he may have come back from surgery to play in a few key games last season. This may have given the Jaguars the edge they needed. He certainly would have been a valuable asset to Luke, and Blaine having been up against these same teams in the past. His advice alone was worth something. The only thing I fault David for is not telling the team straight up when he got hurt, that he was hurt, and playing hurt. They may have changed his contract that last year, but at least he could have remained on the squad, got his injuries repaired, and given valuable advice to McCowan, and Gabbert. Perhaps he was afraid he would be fired straight away, which is exactly what happened. Maybe the Jags knew something we have not been notified about, nor will we ever know about it.
I watched Garrard’s career closely, and was pleased, along with every other Jaguars fan when he replaced Leftwich.. He led the team to some great wins. Initially, the first season, he had very few interceptions, and was very accurate. He even led us to the playoffs. His athleticism allowed him to run over defensive opponents, and get a first down, or a touchdown; however, his athleticism only got him so far. He was constantly being hit, on almost every play, whether the ball got out or not. The script went something like this: the ball was snapped to Garrard, he handed off, or threw it, and no matter what happened he had the opposing defense in his face all the time, and this caused his performance to drop off because he was being hit too much. Garrard was being hit too much because the Offensive Line was like a sieve, and the receiving corps suck big time. The Jaguars have not had a decent receiver since Jimmy Smith retired. That is real sad, and I hope they address that huge problem this season, or we are in for more headaches.
Here is my bottom line! Wayne Weaver, and the Jacksonville Jaguars owed Garrard another year, even if it was under a renegotiated deal. They should have never promised him he would be the starter, when they knew all the while they were gonna fire him a few days before the season opener. Had he not had the back injury they could have prevented him from going to the best possible team for his skills set.
Weaver, Smith, Del Rio, the trainers, and the team physicians claim his out process physical showed no back injury, but their claims are about as good as their word. He was hurt, and this was proven by subsequent tests from a doctor who was not paid to look out for the teams bottom line.
Here is another weird occurence at the Jaguar Jungle. The Jaguars allowed Mark Brunell (who was blessed with a great receiving corps when he was QB) to stay one more year after they drafted Byron Leftwich, and made the rookie the starter. The Jaguars allowed Brunell to not only get paid, but to have all of his injuries repaired, then set off into the wild blue yonder a new man.
That is another sore spot for me. Brunell had plenty of mileage left in him, as evidenced by all the yards, and touchdowns he threw after leaving the Jaguars, yet they have never said they made a mistake in letting him go too soon. We all saw how bad Leftwich was. Those were trying times to be a Jaguar when Leftwich was under center.
Fair is fair, since Brunell was allowed to stay, and get patched up, it was only fair to let Garrard stay, especially since his injuries were a direct result of an inept Offensive Line found at bargain basement prices, during blue light specials.
Garrard had his spinal surgery last year, and sat out the season unpaid. I hope he saw vindication as yet two more Jaguars Quarterbacks were knocked around due to an Offensive Line that would best be used as turnstiles at the Worlds Fair.
No Quarterback can succeed playing for the Jaguars until an effective, and consistent Offensive Line is put in place on the team. The Jaguars need to be in the hunt for a powerhouse, iron curtain type, impenetrable Offensive Line. This type of line will give Gabbert the extra tick, or two he may need to make that play down the field the Jaguars fans are foaming at their mouths for; a one play touchdown, with regularity. Our receivers corps need major work too.
David Garrard could have been an asset last year even if he was just working on the side line carrying a clipboard. He could have helped Gabbert, and McCowan develop a little farther than they have thus far. If his back healed in time, he could have been brought in to salvage the season, as I have already stated.
The Miami Dolphins have signed David Garrard to come down there and try out for their starting QB job. I know he will do great. He has had a year to heal up from the beatings he took behind the Jaguars Offensive Line, as well as undergo much-needed back surgery, along with time to recuperate/rehab from that. He has an excellent chance to help the Dolphins win games, and make it to the playoffs. Even if he fails to get the starting job, Miami would be foolish to let him go. David Garrard is a smart Quarterback, and will be an asset to any team he is a member of. As for his abilities on the field, he is a big man, very elusive, and a great athlete. He is also a gentleman, and an asset to any city he plays for, on, and off the field.
Good luck David Garrard with the Miami Dolphins.. Show them what you can do.
This is my first draft of this journal. A work in progress. I am a rabid Jaguars, and Giants fan, I have been meaning to share a story for a very long time, and today is that day. I hope it makes sense. 😉