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
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.”