Jaguars stuck with QB Garrard after losing backup

The Jacksonville Jaguars are pretty much stuck with quarterback

David Garrard, at least for this season.

Backup quarterback Luke McCown, who replaced Garrard in the

fourth quarter of Sunday’s 38-13 loss at San Diego, will miss the

rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in

his right knee late in the game. McCown injured his knee on a

4-yard scramble with less than a minute remaining.

Garrard re-entered the game and threw a touchdown pass to Mike

Sims-Walker on the next play, the quarterback’s lone highlight in

an otherwise forgetful performance.

Garrard followed the best game of his nine-year career with one

of his worst. He threw four interceptions against the Chargers,

tying his career high set against Houston in 2006.

But with McCown out and no other quarterbacks on the 53-man

roster, the Jaguars are committed to Garrard. Free agent Todd

Bouman was working with quarterbacks coach Mike Shula late Monday,

a good indication the team plans to sign him to be Garrard’s backup

for this weekend’s game against Philadelphia.

Del Rio, who called Garrard a middle-tier quarterback in

January, said Monday that Garrard needs to play better for the

Jaguars (1-1) to have a chance this season.

”It’s kind of like our football team: You feel good about the

work you put in, you believe you’re better than what you just

showed,” Del Rio said. ”When you get an opportunity on Sunday to

prove it, prove it. That’s really what it is.

”There’s no way he can say enough things or I can sit here and

convince you of it having a chance to go that way by having some

eloquent speech prepared. It’s going to have to be proven on the

field. We’re going to have to see it. Believe me, I would love for

that to be the case, for him to take a major step forward for

himself and for our football team ’cause we need that.”

Although Garrard got much of the blame for Jacksonville’s latest

debacle on the West Coast – the Jaguars have been outscored 99-16

in their last three cross-country trips – there were other

concerns.

Sims-Walker and running back Maurice Jones-Drew each fumbled,

giving Jacksonville six turnovers in the game. And the defense gave

up 151 yards rushing, got little pressure on Philip Rivers, lost

All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates several times and allowed way too

many big plays.

The Chargers finished with 477 yards.

”You saw the first week of the season there was a lot of

consistent play and a lot of good things going on,” guard Uche

Nwaneri said. ”You’re going to face a little bit of adversity

throughout the season. That’s just the way it goes. We understand

that and we know that while the score makes it look really bad

we’re a much better team than what we put out there yesterday. It

doesn’t shake our confidence in what we believe we can do.”

Del Rio and players pointed to the turnovers as the biggest

culprit in the latest lopsided loss. Four of the team’s first five

possessions ended with turnovers – three interceptions and a

fumble. Jacksonville opened the second half with another fumble and

another pick.

”It’s the NFL. You turn the ball over once, you’ve got a

problem,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ”A turnover is like a

touchdown for the defense. When you can turn the ball over and stop

momentum. We had momentum. We were getting ready to score in the

red zone, had the ball deep in their territory and turnover.

”First of all, it crushes the offense and then it energized the

defense. We can’t do that. We can’t have mistakes like that. It’s

unacceptable. We understand that and we’ll be better this

week.”

Garrard played significantly better in the opener. He completed

16 of 21 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns against Denver,

and finished with his best passer rating.

It was exactly what Garrard wanted and needed after owner Wayne

Weaver and Del Rio challenged him in the offseason to be a better

leader off the field and be more consistent on the field.

Now, the 32-year-old Garrard is back where he began the season –

trying to prove he’s a capable starter.

”With a ball game like this, we all have to own up to what it

is that went wrong and have some resolve to make it better going

forward and then we’ve got to put it behind us,” Del Rio said. ”I

think it’s imperative that we dust ourselves off and get ourselves

up for the next opportunity.”