The Jacksonville front office saw Lemon as an immediate upgrade over Quinn Gray, and thus signed him to a contract which included a $3 million signing bonus. Through the first couple weeks of OTA practices and the opening weekend of mini-camp, Lemon has struggled mightily with the Jaguars offense. Lemon's level of play has drawn the ire of Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio--
"I think Lemon has struggled, it something that he's going to have to work through. He needs to pick it up."
What wasn't supposed to be a backup quarterback competition, due to Lemon's rather substantial signing bonus, is turning into one with each one of his erratic throws. That coupled with the surprising play of veteran journeyman Todd Bouman has many people wondering if the Jaguars made the right move by signing Lemon.
"They are all doing a great job," said Garrard when he was asked about the backup quarterback competition. "I just really try to help as much as I can for all of them. It's a system that I've been in for a little while now and I really find myself coaching a little bit which is pretty fun. Those guys are taking the coaching well and the little tips that I can give them that maybe the coaches can't give them because they didn't have the actual game experience. I think that really helps them out. Those guys are working their butts off and they are competing very hard. It's really hard to decipher who has the edge right now."
Garrard and Lemon (Getty Images)
"He keeps everything pretty much to himself. He doesn't get frustrated. He hasn't really been down on himself which I think is a good thing. As a quarterback you have to be that way. He's really handled himself well. He hasn't showed in meetings or in the lockerroom that he is upset with himself."
There is still plenty of football left to play, and the competition between Lemon and Bouman is just beginning to heat up. Lemon has to learn a completely new playbook, and it would seem natural that he would struggle initially.
"(Todd) Bouman was here last year so he did get a little bit of a jump on him," said Garrard. "It's hard to evaluate somebody who just got into the system during the mini-camps. Once we get into training camp and they start having live bullets and there is actually some kind of game plan where they can say, ‘Okay, here are the plays. This is what I have to know.', then I think they will really be able to separate themselves a little bit more. I'm sure Cleo (Lemon) will be fine. He's working hard. He has a good mind. It's tough trying to put everything together. Coaches are putting everything in. We never go in with 150 plays that we are installing right now. They will trim it down to 50 or 60 plays and that way you will be able to play a little bit faster. He's working on his craft and he will definitely be better by training camp."
The Jaguars are hoping that Lemon gets better and becomes the quarterback they envisioned when they decided to make him one of the highest paid backup quarterbacks in the NFL. If he stays at the level he's at and Todd Bouman beats him out for the backup job, the entire front office will have a certain amount of egg on their collective faces.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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