Garrard backed up then Jaguars starter, and face of the franchise Mark Brunell as a rookie, and was drafted with the intentions of possibly being the eventual replacement for Brunell, who was entering his tenth season in the NFL, with a team that had experienced two consecutive losing seasons, which was about to become three and then four consecutive losing seasons. It was likely that a change was going to be made at quarterback sooner than later, and Garrard figured to be involved in that decision.
At the end of the 2002 season, changes were made in the Jaguars organization. Owner Wayne Weaver fired Tom Coughlin and the entire coaching staff, and a new regime led by head coach Jack Del Rio and general manager James "Shack" Harris came in. As expected, there was a change at the quarterback position shortly thereafter, but it involved drafting Byron Leftwich with the seventh overall pick in the '03 draft, and David Garrard would be relegated to backup status for the foreseeable future. Garrard saw a little playing time here and there (played in six games from '03-'04), but showed very little on the field.
Finally in 2005, Garrard had his chance to impress the Jaguars coaching staff as he took over for Leftwich when he went down with a broken ankle in early in a week 11 game in Arizona. Garrard played well enough to win four out of the Jaguars final five games, mostly thanks to a combination of a very soft schedule and excellent defense. Garrard showed the outstanding athletic abilities that got him drafted, but wasn't a consistent enough passer, thus the Jaguars went right back to a still injured Byron Leftwich, for their first round playoff game in New England.
Garrard left many people on the outside thinking that there was a quarterback controversy in Jacksonville, as all Garrard did was win, even though his play wasn't overly impressive.
Garrard's biggest opportunity to date came after week six of the '06 season when Byron Leftwich was ineffective after hurting his ankle a few weeks prior. Garrard was then inserted as the Jaguars starting quarterback, and it was his job to lose. After a big road win in Philadelphia, Garrard led the Jaguars to an easy 37-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans at home. Garrard torched a depleted Titans secondary en route to a 120+ rating and three touchdowns passing. Garrard's play was up and down over the next five weeks, culminating with a dominating victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts in December, leaving the Jaguars with an 8-5 record, with a playoff berth in clear sight. Most Jaguars fans remember how the rest of the story played out- Garrard's meltdown in Tennessee, followed by a critical turnover at home that sealed a loss against New England, followed by a benching after a terrible interception in the season finale at Kansas City. After week six it was Garrard's job to lose and he lost the job.
In February, head coach Jack Del Rio reinstated Byron Leftwich as the teams' starting quarterback for the '07 season, and it appeared likely that David Garrard had thrown his final pass in a Jaguars uniform. Garrard took not only the benching, but also the reinstatement of Leftwich like a true professional, and didn't cause any kind of scene in the media. Garrard maintains that he still believes that he can be a starting quarterback, and was disappointed with the team's decision regarding the current depth chart, but he hasn't been a distraction to the team. When Jack Del Rio was asked about Garrard, he said "I think it's very healthy how he (Garrard) is approaching things, he's respectful of the decision that's been made. He's conducting himself like a real professional with preparation and he's going to come in and compete, which is what I want of all my players. That's what we want here. I don't know how you couldn't be pleased with approach."
Garrard knows that he had an opportunity, and didn't make the most of it. Garrard has some undeniable physical skills on the football field, a very strong arm, and is a great guy off the field. His story about overcoming Chrone's disease is uplifting to many, and he appears that he can be a great role model. Unfortunately for David, he made some poor decisions on the football field, and he wasn't able to go through the progressions well enough. With the injury history and contract status of Byron Leftwich, Garrard may get another opportunity to impress and grasp the starting quarterback job in Jacksonville for good. Until that time comes, David is just waiting patiently, without being a distraction, just as he's done his entire career.
Garrard Waiting Patiently... Again.
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