He's no longer just a quarterback who's taken a back seat to those on the team who have been the outspoken leaders. Garrard showed a new look last weekend at the Jaguars mini-camp when he was much more vocal than he's been in the past. Leading team yells, explaining to the young receivers what they did wrong on their pass route, joking, yelling, encouraging, chewing out, Garrard was doing it all.
During the offseason, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said that his quarterback needed to be a better leader and needed to work more with the young receivers to help them develop their skills. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio referred to Garrard as a middle-tier quarterback, hardly words of endorsement for the quarterback who was expected to lead the team back to the playoffs since their last trip there in 2007.
In April of 2008, Garrard signed a seven-year, $60 million contract, the richest in franchise history. He was coming off his best year as an NFL quarterback, finishing with a 102.2 quarterback rating with a TD-interception ratio of 18-3. But those marks have not been seen since. His rating has been in the low 80s the last two years and he's thrown just two and five more TDs than interceptions respectively the past two seasons.
Garrard knows 2010 is a big year regarding his future with the club.
"Absolutely," Garrard answered following a morning workout last weekend as to whether this is a make or break year for him. "I think this is definitely a pivotal year for everybody, not just myself. It's a pivotal year for all of us, no bigger year than it is for me. I know I'm not taking anything for granted.
"I'm going out there one hundred percent and doing all that I can hopefully a little bit more. Just be smart, play within the game and still not try to do anything I don't normally do. Really, it's just getting back to playing fundamental football and being productive."
There was speculation this spring that the Jaguars might select a quarterback with their first-round pick in the college draft. Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen was the name most often associated with the Jaguars, but the club passed on him with their pick, opting to go with defensive lineman Tyson Alualu.
That leaves Garrard secure as the starter for at least another season. But with the influx of top college quarterbacks expected to come out of the 2011 draft, another sub-par year from Garrard will all but guarantee that the Jaguars will go after a quarterback to replace him, probably sooner rather than later.
Garrard makes it clear that he took the challenge from Weaver and Del Rio personally.
"I think any time any man is challenged, it's going to bring something out of you. It should," he said. "If another man is going to challenge you and you are really a man, then you're going to rise to the occasion. For them to say what they said, I take nothing more than just a challenge to myself. I want to be better. I want to be great. Don't just tell me. Give me tools. Give me ways that you see I can be better.
"I'm not a 16-year vet, but I have been here for a while. The things I have known and moving forward, talking to people, really trying to get a good understanding of what the coaches are asking of me, I truly understand that now."
Garrard Aware of His Situation
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