Make or Break for Garrard

When Jaguars' quarterback David Garrard signed a $60 million contract with the club two years ago, there were more than just a few people questioning the validity of such a lucrative deal to a quarterback who had been a starter for just one year.

Granted Garrard had performed well in a backup role for several seasons, but his ability to consistently perform at the high level he showed in 2007 was often questioned. Garrard's 102.2 passing rating that year was third best in the league and the touchdown to interception ratio of 18-3 was eye-popping.

That's maybe why the Jaguars' quarterback has come under such criticism the past two seasons. His season-ending rating of 81.7 and 83.5 the last two years has been mediocre at best. The TD count of 15 in both years comes out to less than one per game while the total interception count of 23 is high.

Jaguars' owner Wayne Weaver threw out a zinger several weeks ago when he noted how Indy quarterback Peyton Manning would drive for several hours several days a week just to work out with rookie receiver Pierre Garcon in order to develop closer ties. It was an indirect dig at Garrard that he needs to work harder to establish that type of connection with the Jaguars' receivers.

Coach Jack Del Rio voiced his thoughts on his quarterback a week ago and said that Garrard wasn't in the elite category as some of the other NFL quarterbacks in the league.

"I think he (Garrard) is a good football player and I think we can win with him," the Jaguars coach said. "There is certainly room for growth. We've been pushing in that area and we'll continue to push. But ultimately, it's gonna be up to the quarterback. There is room for improvement there.

"The fact that he's been durable, been a guy that has been tough, that has a strong arm and quick release, I think there are things we can do to help him. There are things that he has to do to help himself and help our offense if we want to go to the next level."

Later in the week after Del Rio's comments had been published, reporters caught up with Garrard at a promotional tour. The Jaguars ninth-year QB who just turned 32 acknowledges that he has to raise the level of his play.

"No question I want to play better in 2010," he said. "There were some good things that we did in 2009 but at other times not so good. We want to play at a higher level this year and win more games. Our goal is still to get to the Super Bowl and I've got to play better to help the team reach that goal."

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