Garrard Deflects, His Future In Doubt

After every season, the Jaguars brain trust will get together in an attempt to figure out which moves they must make to improve not only the roster, but the coaching staff. Although the Jaguars overachieved by most accounts, their four-game losing streak to finish the season left a bitter taste in their fans collective mouth's.

"I told them (Jaguars players) that I wanted them to feel the pain of today," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said following his team's disappointing 23-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"You never want to settle for anything but a football team trying to earn their way into the playoffs and having a chance to contend for a championship," the seven-year Jaguars head coach said.

Much of the blame from the Jaguars losing skid that ended any chance for the playoffs has been dealt onto quarterback David Garrard, whose mediocre play when it counted the most is something that's certainly troubling.

Garrard's play this season can't be construed as anything but mediocre, as he tossed 15 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions. The 15 touchdown passes were a league low for quarterbacks that started all 16 games. The Jaguars starting quarterback fumbled a league high 14 times and lost eight of those. Under his direction, Jacksonville led the league in red zone turnovers.

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
David Garrard's humdrum statistics are what's expected of a fourth-round draft pick, which he was back in 2002. Unfortunately, expectations from a fan base and an organization change once you sign a six-year, $60 million deal, something Garrard did following the 2007 season. Since signing the extension, the Jaguars quarterback has a 12-20 record, and the team has missed the playoffs in three of his four years as a starter, which included two epic collapses down the stretch.

One of Jaguars general manager Gene Smith's biggest decisions this offseason will be whether or not to retain Garrard as his nearly eight million dollars in base salary for 2010.

"Hopefully they understand all of the different circumstances that are going on and evaluate from there," Garrard said.

The Jaguars quarterback has repeatedly criticized his offensive line and the youth around him this season, going as far back as the Jaguars first preseason game in Miami back in August.

Still, Garrard isn't concerned with what decision the front office comes up with regarding him.

"I'm not worried about that (the front office going in a different direction)," Garrard said. "They're going to make their decisions and I have to live with it. Hopefully they can see through all the weeds and understand all of the different things that are going on."

The "weeds" as the eighth year pro from East Carolina refers to are essentially the team's youth and inexperience which he blames much of the offense's problems on.

"A lot of times we can kill ourselves," Garrard told reporters. "I think that has to do with young guys and the offense not being as cohesive and mature as we should be. Those are all things that we can hopefully learn and move forward from."

The offensive line was far from stellar this year, but most experts believe it was improved greatly from a year ago.

"The Jaguars offensive line is still somewhat of a work in progress but they were ten-fold better than last year," NFL expert Adam Caplan said Monday on CB Sports Radio.

Still, they weren't good enough to escape the ire of the Jaguars quarterback following the New England game where he went 19 of 25 passing for 185 yards, but threw two very costly interceptions.

"That's where we got to get to," Garrard said of the protection Brady received that day. "We've got to get to the point where I can sit back and say, 'One, two and three aren't open, here's four.' We will get to that, though."

Garrard did manage to backpedal just a bit.

"The offensive line is growing and it's going to be a great offensive line. I'm happy to play for those guys. I know you've got to take your bumps and bruises now, but moving forward, those guys are going to be great."

The line couldn't catch a break in the season finale either, as Garrard blamed a big play lost to a malfunction in protection.

"Those are the moments we can't have," the Jaguars quarterback said of a play in which he was hit as he threw. "I can't be getting hit at that time, I have to either get the ball of faster or the guys have to keep guys off me a little better."

Ironically, there weren't any of the Jaguars receivers, running backs or offensive line members saying in the locker room how the quarterback had to not throw interceptions down the stretch of close games, or run out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage for sacks.

The Jaguars have a major decision to make on David Garrard for next season. Next month he will turn 32 years old, and he's appeared to regress once being granted his large contract. The team must think that with a young nucleus, do they really want to hitch their wagons to a mediocre passer that routinely folds in big situations, that seemingly finds fault with everyone on the team's play? That's the eight million dollar question.

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