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David Garrard: A Super Bowl Caliber Quarterback

miller-article1Last Thursday, during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio replied to Rome’s question as to whether David Garrard is a Super Bowl caliber quarterback.  Del Rio answered, “Well that’s, uh, a good question.  I think I would say a quarterback like David Garrard can be that with a great supporting cast.  You know, I don’t know.  When you look at teams that have won multiple championships, I think they’ve had elite quarterbacks.” 

Del Rio’s poignant answer made me think that it's time we analyze recent quarterbacks who've played in the Super Bowl. 

Since Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, 15 different quarterbacks have started in the NFL’s championship game.  In those 11 years, four of those QBs have led their teams to more than one Super Bowl berth – Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning.

It can be argued that all four of those men, who have all earned Super Bowl rings, will one day be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

However, in the last 11 Super Bowls, only Pittsburgh Steeler Big Ben and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady have won multiple rings.  At a certain point, the quarterback can only do so much.  Other dynamics also come into play.

But, with an elite quarterback at the helm, a team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl improve drastically. 

In the last 11 Super Bowls, as to regular-season statistics, the starting quarterbacks have averaged 3,628 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 92.7 quarterback rating.  Those numbers are nearly identical to how recently-retired Kurt Warner performed during the 2009 regular season.

Certainly, Garrard has the skill level and talent to post similar regular-season numbers.  In 2008, he threw for 3,620 yards.  The year before, Garrard owned a 102.2 quarterback rating.  Garrard’s weakness is his touchdown total – his highest was 18 back in 2007. 

And, I will reiterate what I wrote three weeks ago.  “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.”

But Garrard cannot perform at his best while being sacked 125 times in the last four years.  Amazingly, David was not asked to play the role of Abe Vigoda in last Sunday’s premiere of a Snickers commercial. 

At 31 (he turns 32 on Sunday), age is not on his side.  Ever since Super Bowl XXXIV, the average age of a Super Bowl starting quarterback has been 29.  The youngest starter was in 2005 when a 23-year-old Roethlisberger played against the Seattle Seahawks.  In the last 11 years, Warner, while with the Arizona Cardinals, and Oakland Raider Rich Gannon laced up their cleats at 37.  So, while Garrard is no baby-faced 20-something, his age may not hinder a potential appearance in the Super Bowl.  However, the clock is ticking!

Garrard’s biggest impediment to playing in the Super Bowl is a lack of “a great supporting cast.”  During his tenure with the St. Louis Rams, Warner had do-everything running back Marshall Faulk, wide receivers (in their prime) Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.  Brady and the Patriots were fortunate enough to have weapons Corey Dillon, Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch, Randy Moss and Wes Welker.  The Eagles’ McNabb was handing off to Brian Westbrook and tossing passes to future Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.  Garrard does not yet possess that “great supporting cast.”

In a few years, which may be too late for Garrard’s sake, he could have Pro Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew, a 1,000-yard receiver in Mike Sims-Walker and a ball-catching machine in Mike Thomas.  But for now, Garrard does not play with a star-studded offense like the 2007 Patriots -- “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

Overall, Garrard can rack up similar numbers that past Super Bowl caliber quarterbacks have posted.   But first he needs that “great supporting cast” to even be mentioned in the same sentence with the elite quarterbacks of the past decade.

With the clock ticking, it is time to find that supporting cast of characters to round out the offensive performance of the Jaguars.  Finding them is the essential first step on the path to the Super Bowl for David Garrard.

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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. 

Follow Richard’s daily blog on The Jacksonville Observer.

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

3 Responses »

  1. I have always had faith in David Garrard. Back when Leftwich was kept in our best run for the playoffs I cursed the decision. David is truly was destined for greatness at that moment. We missed an opportunity.

    It is hard to watch the number of sacks he had to endure over the last few months. Hopefully, the Jaguars can create the offensive line necessary for him to come into his own and the team to shine.

    Keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville - win some games. Go Jaguars!

  2. There's WAY too much focus on the quaterback rating number. At the end of the day it doesn't mean much. Terry Bradshaw, Ken Stabler, Jim Plunkett, Joe Namath all had career ratings around 70 or less. Ben Rothlesberger had a rating in the 20's for his Super Bowl wins.

    The true measure of a quaterback is "leadership", driving your team to victory. Garrard is a good enough quarterback, but he lacks (so far) that certain little thing that causes everyone around him to be better.

  3. David Garrard isn't as bad as the media, fans put him out to be. Do you think Peyton Manning would be 'as' great if he got sacked 125 times the past 4 years?

    I don't think so.

    David Garrard needs the supporting cast Mr. Miller has mentioned in this story. I imagine it's hard to get true talent in Jacksonville, though. I personally like Garrard as a quarterback. I've heard rumors of Jacksonville drafting Tim Tebow as a possible future replacement.

    What is that going to do? Sale MORE tickets, that's it.