Garrard likely to stay Jaguars' starter


Mar 27, 2006
Reaction score
Garrard likely to stay Jaguars' starter wire reports

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2006) -- Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio ended two weeks of speculation surrounding his quarterback situation, saying starter Byron Leftwich is as healthy as he's going to get this season.

His revelation cleared the way for mobile backup David Garrard to make a third straight start Nov. 12 against Houston, and possibly keep the job the rest of the season.

Del Rio stopped short of naming Garrard his starter following consecutive wins, but made it clear that Leftwich's injured left ankle could keep him on the bench for the remaining eight games.

"A healthy guy that's playing well is a no-brainer for me," Del Rio said.

Del Rio declined to discuss details about Leftwich's injury, citing privacy issues, but said he might need surgery.

"His ankle is 85 to 90 percent and it's probably not going to get much better than that until he gets a long period of time off," Del Rio said. "At some point he made need to go in there and have a little clean out. He's really basically at about the best level he's going to be at unless he gets an extended time off.

"I know he's anxious. I know he's competitive. I know he wants to be back. I also know that David is doing a nice job and we have found some rhythm on offense and he's done a nice job when he's played."

Leftwich injured his ankle Oct. 1 at Washington. He played well the following week against the New York Jets, but the injury flared up two days before Jacksonville's game at Houston.

Although he missed a practice, Leftwich convinced coaches he was ready to play against the Texans. He played poorly in a 27-7 loss, and Del Rio criticized him for not being forthright about his ankle. Leftwich was benched the following week as Garrard led the Jaguars (5-3) to a 13-6 victory at Philadelphia.

Garrard was even better in Week 9's 37-7 win over Tennessee. He was 12-of-22 for 177 yards with three touchdown passes. He also had several passes dropped, including one in the end zone.

"I think he's an improving player right now, so I'm more comfortable with the decision making he's shown and the ability he's shown," Del Rio said. "And at this point, that gives me confidence to stay with him."

Garrard, a fourth-round draft pick from East Carolina in 2002, improved to 6-1 as a starter the last two seasons.

"It wasn't just Sunday. It's been cumulative," Del Rio said. "I wouldn't make it any one particular moment. If you look at the body of work, he's done a nice job in a difficult set of circumstances, remaining professional working at his trade, and he's proven to his teammates and to the coaching that he can lead this football team, move this football team."

Del Rio said he respected Leftwich's toughness and downplayed any perceived disagreements the two may have had.

"Anybody that's competitive, that feels 85 to 90 percent is good enough, has played with things before, wants to play," Del Rio said. "But in terms of my respect for him or his respect for me, there's no issue there. I respect the competitor in him. In fact, I admire it. I think it's great. We want our guys to be tough and play tough.

"But at the same time, I'm responsible for this organization, this football team and to put the best product out there to help us win games. That's what we're all about."

Members online

No members online now.

Latest posts