In the purest form of déjà vu or karma, the Jaguars just made it happen as they released David Garrard. Just days after the preseason was over and before the season opener the Jags went in a different direction at QB.
Yesterday reports were swirling that the Jacksonville Jaguars were looking to let David Garrard go, and look towards the future. The crazy thing about this situation is the same way Garrard got his starting spot under Head Coach Jack Del Rio, is the same way he lost his spot under the same coach.
Garrard was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 4th round with the 108th pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. Garrard was supposed to be the replacement for then starting quarterback Mark Brunell. Plans changed when Tom Coughlin was fired and the general manager James Harris drafted Byron Leftwich in the 2003 NFL Draft. Leftwich took over as the starter when Brunell was hurt and was the starter till 2007.
In 2007, Del Rio named Leftwich the starter once again, but cut Leftwich after the preseason was over and right before the season started in the same fashion that Garrard was let go yesterday. The Jaguars are starting Luke McCown who outplayed Garrard and rookie Blaine Gabbert in this year’s preseason games.
Garrard outplayed Leftwich in 2007 becoming the starter and holding the starting spot until now. In the year that Garrard took over he lead the Jags to a playoff birth by throwing 18 touchdowns on 2,509 yards and just 3 interceptions with a 102.2 quarterback rating. Garrard missed three games that year, but was able to make it back for the playoffs. With a 11-5 record the Jags were in the AFC Wild Card Game, and they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-29 after a late drive to get them in field-goal range. They went on to face the New England Patriots in the Divisional Playoffs, but fell short with a 31-20 loss. The Jags have not been back to the playoffs since under Garrard.
That summer the Jags gave Garrard a $60 million dollar deal for 6-years, but the magic did not stick with Garrard. The next year was one of the worst, as he threw for more yards with 3,620, but threw 15 touchdowns with 13 interceptions leading to a 5-11 record.
Garrard came into the preseason with back problems and missed the first preseason game due to it. In the games he did play in the preseason, Garrard completed just 50 percent of his passes for 216 yards. He also threw no touchdowns and an interception while McCown completed 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. McCown played mostly with the second team against second and third string talent.
To some this may come as no surprise as the Jags picked up Blaine Gabbert with the 10th pick in this year’s draft. This came after Garrard continued to be inconsistent when they needed him the most. Garrard’s record with the Jags is 39-37 as he threw for 16,003 yards for 89 touchdowns with 54 interceptions. Garrard was also mobile as he ran for 1,746 yards and 17 touchdowns. Garrard did set a franchise record with 23 touchdown passes in a season but that has been his only highlight since the playoffs in 2007.
Del Rio feels that he gave he gave Garrard every opportunity to keep his starting job, but Garrard just could not get it going.
Del Rio had this to say about the situation.
Our starter is our starter until he's not our starter, that's the way it works. To do it any other way creates a circus atmosphere. We have not had that. We've had a very purposeful camp, we've had a very workmanlike, businesslike training camp. A decision was made in the best interest of the football team, and now we go forward.
Tight end Mercedes Lewis had this to say about Garrard’s departure
I was shocked by the decision. They obviously felt it was time to go in a different direction. Luke had a great camp, everyone knows that, and now he's the guy. There's no drop-off. We believe in Luke and we're going to rally around him.
Garrard used Twitter to get his feeling out by dropping this tweet to the fans
Thank you jaguar fans for an awesome ride! You are the best fans ever. You'll always have a special place in my heart and my family's heart!