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Jaguars Need a Future Starting Quarterback

miller-article1You can no longer avoid the fact that Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio and quarterback David Garrard are on a shorter leash than Tiger Woods is with Elin Nordegren.

When Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver gave Del Rio the thumbs-up nine days ago, that left Garrard as a potential victim of the scalding hot seat.

Like it or not, the QB is the most vital position in all of team sports.  He is ordered to lead his team every Sunday.

And, with 32 candles to be placed on Garrard’s birthday cake on February 14, the end is nearing for the Jaguars starting quarterback.

I am not suggesting I know who the organization will bring in as Garrard’s replacement.  But, the future needs to be planned – and soon.  I don’t underestimate the capabilities of general manager Gene Smith and his staff.  However, quarterback should be a must for this year’s draft.

In four seasons of 10 or more starts, Garrard has proven to be extremely durable.  His 62 pro starts in seven seasons are second in Jaguars’ history behind Mark Brunell – who started 114 games in nine seasons.

And, while Garrard is only two years into his six-year, $60 million contract, I believe Garrard has perhaps two, maybe three, good years left in him.

Even though Garrard has started all 16 games the past two seasons, he has taken a continuous beating while in the pocket.  In 2008 and 2009, Garrard was sacked a total of 84 times and fumbled 21 times – 11 of which were lost to the opposing team.

It needs to be reiterated time and again that football is a young man’s game. 

Depending on your memory, back in “The Aughts,” then-rookie Byron Leftwich was chosen over the 33-year-old Brunell.  None of the achievements or records mattered when Brunell was dropped for the young stud after the 2003 season. 

A similar pattern should be followed in selecting Garrard’s successor.  And, no, it will not be a player like Cleo Lemon or Luke McCown.

The next starting quarterback needs to be young and have the ability to make all the big-league throws.  The talent is out there – the Jaguars just have to go and find Garrard’s successor. 

Let it be known that the Jaguars should not place the next starter on the field immediately.  The coaching staff will groom him and David Garrard needs to show him the ways of being a professional.

In my opinion, Garrard has not reached the prime years of his career.  He has the tools to throw for 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in today’s pass-happy league.  That is as long as Garrard receives some help along the offensive line.

Last Tuesday, owner Wayne Weaver was asked about the team’s future at quarterback.  In response, Weaver publicly announced his confidence in Garrard when he said, “I think that David Garrard can win for us.”

It was about as vague as an answer could be, but I agree with Weaver.  Given the proper tools and protection, which I predict will improve in 2010, Garrard can win games.

And, wins have to start in a team’s division.  Therefore, Jacksonville needs to focus its attention on the AFC South.

Garrard was the third-best quarterback in the AFC South last season with respect to completion percentage, total passing yards, touchdowns thrown and passer rating.  It also does not help that Garrard plays in the same division as two top-10 quarterbacks – Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub.

Comparisons are motivations, but can also be deflating at the end of the season.

Since the dawn of man, quarterbacks have been judged by their success in the postseason.  Playoff wins and Super Bowl rings are the grading scale.

Garrard has one playoff win.  That is nothing when you consider second-year quarterback Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens already has three postseason victories.

From 1996 to 1999, Mark Brunell led the Jaguars to four consecutive playoff appearances, four postseason wins and two berths in the AFC Championship Game. 

Garrard still has time to accomplish those feats.  But, the future begins this April when the Jaguars draft a quarterback.

The clock is ticking.  With each tick, the Jacksonville Jaguars must move closer to finding a young talent to fill the backup quarterback position.

One day, he will have to take the reins from Garrard and lead the Jaguars into the future.

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Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio.  Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show. 

Richard contributes to Inside the Game with Robin Valetutto every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. 

Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010. 

You can e-mail Richard at Richard.miller@jaxobserver.com

3 Responses »

  1. you are right, i hope they get somebody to do the job.

  2. In a small market such as Jacksonville a professional team needs named players that have a large local fan base such as Tim Tebow. He would attract a huge local following, specially Gator fans (and we have lots of them). Tim is a great Football Quarterback and a great all around athlete. Perhaps I am wrong, but I know that I would be a better fan if we had a local celebrity playing for our beloved team.

  3. I hope Wayne does some behind-the-door deals on draft day to do what it takes to get TT in a Jags uniform. It would fill the seats, and the I think the locals would support him immensely. He WILL need some grooming and should be brought into the position slowly. I agree 100% with Gary F.