Whose Fault Is It?
If a monkey shoots someone you don't blame the monkey, rather the guy who handed him the gun.
David Garrard was never an elite quarterback who "lost his fastball." He wasn't former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who was never seemingly the same after his knee injury in 2005. Garrard was a career backup who won the starting job prior to 2007 mostly by default and had a season which he wasn't asked to do much and did that well.
Garrard's "magical" 2007 season included a playoff win in which he received the bulk of the credit. Garrard's long run on a 4th-and-2 play set the team up for the winning field goal and he was deemed a hero. What many forgot about was his 9 for 21, 140 yard passing performance which included three interceptions.
One could argue that Garrard's throwing inaccuracy caused the Jaguars to be in a close game that they should've ran away with.
The need to show a sense of stability following the postseason success for a fickle fanbase convinced Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver to bestow largely undeserved contract extensions to both Jack Del Rio and David Garrard.
The money didn't make Del Rio a better coach or Garrard a better quarterback, but with that money and a sample of postseason success, greater expectations were demanded. Expectations that didn't match up with the talent level of either.
The Cover-UpEven the best front offices in all of sports make mistakes. Making a mistake with a draft pick or free agent signing isn't the worst thing an organization can do. Not admitting when you make a mistake is what's inexcusable and will set a franchise back years and years.
The Jaguars have made several mistakes and like it or not, it has to do with their fanbase. With a constant need to sell tickets and national media reminding the organization that one misstep could lead to a potential relocation, the Jaguars have made several decisions based around ticket sales.
- 2005 First-round draft pick Matt Jones- Despite playing the wide receiver position for all of one exhibition game, the Jaguars decided to make Matt Jones their first-round pick. Jones was from the country, loved to hunt and fish and the team thought he would endear himself to the people of Jacksonville. Jones lasted four seasons in the NFL.
-2007 First-round draft pick Reggie Nelson- Nelson, a former Florida Gator wasn't as big of a reach as Jones, but his lack of football IQ had him completely off some team's draft boards. The Jaguars thought they could integrate themselves with the Gators fanbase, to no avail.
-2008 Contract extensions for Jack Del Rio and David Garrard- After winning it's first playoff game in this millennium, Jacksonville decided to extend the contracts of the head coach and quarterback rather hastily after just one year of success.
-2008 First-round draft pick Derrick Harvey- Harvey was a reach at the eighth-overall pick and was a classic version of a guy who stopped working hard after he was paid. The former Florida Gator didn't endear himself to the fans despite playing his college ball for the local champions.
-2010 Jaguars decide to keep David Garrard at his current salary despite his second consecutive losing season and December collapse. Garrard was outplayed by backup Luke McCown in that training camp but the team refused to let their incumbent starter take a back seat thanks to a city-wide ticket push.
The Jaguars have made several decisions that revolved more around ticket sales and less around winning football games. With the drafting of Tyson Alualu and release of David Garrard, it's safe to assume that the team's decisions will be based more squarely on football rather than outside forces.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie
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