ESPN’s John Clayton…”The stunner is the timing. How do you go through a training camp and four pre-season games preparing one quarterback and then making a switch at the end? Unless he was handcuffed by ownership or management, (Jack) Del Rio should have given (David) Garrard the job from the start of the season.”
Confused, right? Because you just heard QB David Garrard was released by Del Rio’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
Well, Clayton’s comments came just a few days before the 2007 season when Del Rio named David Garrard his starting quarterback and designated the incumbent signal-caller Bryon Leftwich for reassignment. At the time, while no one was shocked because it was known Jack and Bryon were not on each other’s Christmas Card lists (Leftwich questioned Del Rio’s decisions, Del Rio questioned Leftwich’s honesty about his health), the timing of the decision was mostly judged to be…insane.
Adding a surreal touch to that move back then…many pundits wrote Del Rio’s immediate future would now ride on this sudden change of direction because the Jaguars were felt to possess quality talent in other key areas and it was perceived solid play at the QB position would put them on a par with their rival…Peyton Manning’s Colts. This was 2007, folks.
I don’t know if Leftwich was informed of his numbered days in Jacksonville after the team’s annual preseason luncheon like Garrard apparently was yesterday (reports from Jacksonville papers are David received some of the biggest cheers from those on hand) but once more Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars’ management thought nothing of pulling another pin and tossing a second hand grenade into the team’s locker room just days before they start a season. (and by the way how HAS Del Rio LASTED all this time…?)
Legendary former Head Coach Bill Parcells dialed up ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike In The Morning” earlier today wondering the obvious about what the remaining Jaguars are thinking right now…how do you go to that team and sell those players you are all about competing in 2011? TE Marcedes Lewis, while trying to spin the decision during a SportsCenter interview as “not being a step down” confirmed the move as “shocking…no one saw it coming.”
A disclaimer. I have admired David Garrard greatly for how he has battled back since being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. He lost 35 pounds and had almost a foot of his intestine removed not that many years ago. He has fought his way through his various physical ailments to play pro football. I know someone who has Crohn’s. I think his story is a remarkable one.
But it is a business. David has proved to be a real up-and-down starter. It is absolutely fair to say Garrard has been an average performer. I would offer he’s had poor protection and low-quality receivers during much of his era in Jacksonville…not to mention a Jaguars’ defense that has been downright offensive at times. Would he be that much better somewhere else? We’ll likely find out now…
Since Jacksonville drafted Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert 10th overall, there was certainly little doubt the future of the position was determined. Yet, with no traditional pre-pre-season…the veteran Garrard appearing healthy and in place…and owner Wayne Weaver saying at one point in the off-season Del Rio would be gone if the team did not make the playoffs this season…there is no logic to this.
Did I mention Del Rio named Luke McCown the starter for Week 1 instead of Gabbert?
Former Head Coach Jon Gruden also called in to “Mike & Mike” this morning and came to the conclusion we all come to in circumstances like this in sports when the decision just doesn’t add up…it’s about adding up dollars and cents. Gruden called out Jacksonville for releasing Garrard, convinced the only reason was so the Jaguars would not have to pay David just over $8 million this year. He also noted how long McCown has been a journeyman/backup and his last start was Week 17 of 2007…for Gruden. Reading between the comments made, it was clear to me Jon knows in his heart of hearts Luke will always be a backup at best.
The Jacksonville franchise has been operating without all their faculties…even their facilities…for years now. You may recall in 2005 they started putting tarp over the upper-level seats at their stadium so they could concentrate on trying to sell their pitiful product to a reduced seating capacity and still be able to declare sellouts.
Well, with this latest garbage move as far as I am concerned they can now start putting tarp over the lower-level seating as well.
While the other two quarterbacks did see time with the starters in pre-season, Garrard spent most of his time with the first-stringers and in the three games he appeared in he appeared healthy and functional.
To release Garrard now…to not insert Gabbert…the Colts finally looking human with Manning’s injury…
Jack Del Rio courtesy of Jacksonville.com…”We made a decision to release David Garrard. As always we play the best players and as I’ve said before I think it’s imperative that we have the courage to do what’s best for the football team. The decision was pure football. Gene (General Manager Smith) and I met at length over the last several weeks about the position, about this player. There was never any pressure from Wayne, Mr. Weaver, in any way.”
One of two things is for sure. Either Weaver told Del Rio his job was safe (again) and it would be okay to tank this year to get Gabbert eased into the starter position…and he wanted Garrard off his books…or…Del Rio’s absurd head-coaching, decision-making ability continues to remain in question by this blogger from all the hits he took during his playing career as a linebacker.
Jack Del Rio courtesy of ESPN.com…”Luke gives us the best chance (to win), Blaine will be the backup and really those are the two best options we have as we enter Week 1.”
The Jaguars’ front office is probably working the phones vigorously right now.
Not to improve their team…to locate more tarp.