Jaguars stuck with QB Garrard after losing backup

By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — 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.

Although Brett Ratliff is on the practice squad, coach Jack Del Rio

said Monday the team will work out several quarterbacks Tuesday and sign

one to be Garrard’s backup for this weekend’s game with Philadelphia.

Del Rio, who called Garrard a

middle-tier quarterback in January, also said his starter 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.”