Del Rio Trying to Cover?

The coach and the quarterback tend to be the two most important players on a team. And it helps if they're both on the same page.

Coach Jack Del Rio and quarterback David Garrard were on the same page in 2007 when he cut Byron Leftwich nine days before the season started and handed the job to Garrard.

Garrard led the team to an 11-5 season, including a playoff victory in Pittsburgh, the team's only playoff victory in Del Rio's seven years as a coach. That earned Garrard a $60 million contract extension and Del Rio a $21 million extension.

But Garrard hasn't been the same quarterback the last two years. He team went 5-11 in 2008 and 7-9 in 2009 when it had a 7-5 record and lost its last four games.

The result is that Del Rio is on the hot seat. He survived this year because it would have cost them more than $15 million to fire him.

But it would seem to be difficult for Del Rio to survive an eighth season with just one playoff victory even though it will cost owner Wayne Weaver about $10 million to fire him at the end of the 2010 season.

Meanwhile, Del Rio has become publicly critical of Garrard.

He called him a "middle-tier" quarterback at his season-ending press conference and then said he wasn't an elite quarterback during an interview with Jim Rome during Super Bowl week.

"David is a guy who can be successful when he has really good players playing well around him but the teams who win consistently in the playoffs have elite quarterbacks. David is not an elite quarterback," he said.

What he said is true, but coaches don't usually publicly knock their quarterbacks.

It's almost as if Del Rio is planning on blaming Garrard if they don't make the playoffs and creates what could be an awkward situation this year.

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