Restoring A Backup

We have talked about the Jaguars quarterback situation ad nauseam, and we know that it's "unsettled", to say the least.

Just a quick recap: Byron Leftwich is the most talented passer and he's been named the starter, but he's a free agent after this year and he's missed 16 of the teams' last 22 regular season games. David Garrard currently holds the backup spot, but he can't go through his progressions and tends to make horrible mistakes at the worst possible moments. Quinn Gray is the number three guy, and he appears to have all the tools of a solid quarterback, but he makes way too many mistakes in practice, and can't beat out Garrard for the backup job.

What I said in the above paragraph can only be considered to be earth-shattering news if you've lived under a rock for the past six to twelve months. The bottom line about the situation is that Leftwich may or may not stay healthy in ‘07, and he may or may not be around in ‘08. None of the other two quarterbacks can fill in for an extended period of time if the team plans on making a trip to the postseason. Although Garrard and Gray are semi-talented, the Jaguars need a more experienced, more legitimate backup plan.

The team has been slightly proactive in disclosing their interest in future ex-Dolphin signal caller Daunte Culpepper, and Culpepper will eventually get his release from Miami, but that doesn't guarantee that he's willing to come to Jacksonville, especially to be a backup to Leftwich, a guy with a small fraction of the resume that Daunte has.

With the Jaguars having one of the very best salary cap situations in the league, and a good, young roster, I've thought of some other backup, backup scenarios that could be of some interest to the Jaguars. The team needs experience at the backup quarterback position, and it would be nice if they had a guy who could actually compete for the starting job if Leftwich leaves after the season. The team could get potentially both in Buccaneers signal-caller Chris Simms. Simms is a tough, strong-armed quarterback who is a great community guy as well as a pretty solid quarterback. Simms is currently the backup quarterback in Tampa Bay, and he's likely to remain in that role, as the newly acquired Jeff Garcia is a better fit for Jon Gruden's west coast offense. There have been no rumors that are linked to the Bucs front office about them shopping Simms, but the Jaguars could likely make the Bucs listen if they offered a first day pick for the quarterback, or if they offered up a quarterback of their own (Garrard or Gray).

Another possible solution at the backup quarterback position will be the future, former-Eagle, Kelly Holcomb. Holcomb has been a backup for most of his career, and has never started more than eight games in an NFL season. That being said, Holcomb has led a team into the playoffs (Cleveland of all teams), and is experienced, and will likely become available (Holcomb is the fourth quarterback on the Eagles roster). The Jaguars could likely sign him for little money, and he will likely be released at the end of camp, or possibly sooner. Holcomb could be used to groom a rookie quarterback in ‘08, assuming that Leftwich leaves in free agency.

Sure, anyone can find faults with either Daunte Culpepper, Chris Simms, or Kelly Holcomb without looking too hard. They are all possible gambles, and who knows if any of them will be better than the Jaguars current group of backups? One thing we do know is that this team can't make the playoffs if Leftwich goes down, and Culpepper, Simms, and Holcomb have all guided teams to the playoffs before.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Feel free to contact Charlie HERE


Jags Illustrated Top Stories