We have watched NFL football for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, maybe more and some concepts have stood the test of time as being absolute true. Quarterbacks do not win many games or have long careers when they are getting hit often. When a quarterback sustains the punishment level David Garrard has sustained in the last two seasons, he won't perform well or be on the field much longer.
Conversely, most quarterbacks can throw the ball very well and hit moving targets with ease when no one is bothering them. Give a guy like David time and he looks every bit as good as any other top quarterback.
I remember a long time ago the Buffalo Bills had a quarterback duel between Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie. Rob Johnson had the size and arm and polish that made him look like a clear winner. Doug Flutie was small with less deep ball ability. Doug Flutie had one skill Rob Johnson didn't, Doug could run for his life. Buffalo didn't have an offensive line and I remember thinking, better pick Flutie cause Rob Johnson will get killed. Rob was picked as the starter and got killed. It was ugly to watch.
Joe Namath had bad knees and couldn't move. He spent his last year in LA where they couldn't protect him. It was a sad end to a great career.
Over and over the same thing plays out. The quarterback battle between Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown was silly during the Tampa Bay pre-season. Bryon looks great until there is a rush. Tampa Bay has problems on the offensive line and no change of quarterback is going to fix that. Byron was the worst choice behind a weak line.
Did David have receivers open? Yes. Did David miss plays? Yes. Did Dirk Koetter help him out by calling pass plays under a huge blitz? No. We can diagnose all the nuances of the game if we want, but David doesn't avoid a rush very well or think very clearly when he is getting hit. Only Big Ben does that well from what I have seen. Hit Vince Young like David was hit and he will refuse to go in the game. We don't have the line to play the game Dirk Koetter wants to play and David is paying the price. Unfortunately, we can't win with 9 men in the box and daring us to try and run. That was last year.
The Jaguars Defensive and Offensive lines deteriorated because we didn't draft into those spots for years. Tom did, Shack and Jack didn't. Rookies selected in the first round have a 50% chance of even being a starter three years later. The later rounds are even lower. You simply have to keep bringing people into the lines in hopes of finding good ones.
The Jaguars addressed the line play in the last two drafts. Defensive line then Offensive line. We are late in rebuilding these critical areas and having mixed success. This will be a focus of the team going forward.
As much as I hate to write this, we have to follow Jack Del Rio's advice about Derrick Harvey and apply it to this team, lower your expectations. The lines are not there to support any kind of playoff run. They won't be this year and maybe not next.
My only concern is that David doesn't have the time or the body to survive the pounding. I am afraid the line rebuilding may cause more rebuilding. In short, Jack Del Rio, Bill Cower, Marty, or anyone else isn't going to make this team improve quickly. Changing out the coaching staff isn't going to fix the line play, not today. Only Gene Smith can do what is needed and he can't do it right now.
- Terry O'Brien