Jack Del Rio was hired in 2003 and has since posted an extremely average .509 winning percentage. David Garrard has been the starting QB for Del Rio during the majority of his tenure and has posted a similar extremely average .521 winning percentage as a starter. The combo have only one playoff victory during their time with the Jaguars, which is simply not acceptable for the Weavers and the fans.
Finding who's at fault is a little more difficult than looking at stats because they have little experience apart from one another and have played with teams that might be "just average." So let's take a look at the pros and cons of David Garrard and Jack Del Rio. Then, I'll turn it over to the Big Cat Country jury.
Jack Del Rio
Reasons to support:
Shack Harris was hired in 2003 and marred the last 7 seasons for Jack Del Rio with bad draft pick after bad draft pick. Del Rio was never given a shot to succeed with draft busts such as Byron Leftwich, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Reggie Nelson and Khalif Barnes anchoring the core of his teams.
David Garrard and Byron Leftwich are the only two quarterbacks of Del Rio's tenure and neither were able to win the big games and win down the stretch. The pitfalls of Garrard in particular have made Del Rio look bad and he cannot and should not be judged as a coach that can't win big games, when it is his quarterbacks that have let him down. Give him a QB that wins big games and then we'll see how good of a coach he really is.
Reasons to fire him:
Jack Del Rio was as much a part of the problem as Shack Harris was. It wasn't until the decision by Wayne Weaver to relieve Jack of his personnel evaluation duties that Gene Smith finally set the boat right.
Del Rio has been playing the blame game for his entire tenure, making assistant coach after assistant coach the scapegoats for his deficiencies. Coordinators Bill Musgrave, Carl Smith and Gregg Williams were all fired by Del Rio along with plenty of lower level coaches. Who was the one mainstay during these times? Mr. Del Rio.
Jack has supported David Garrard from the beginning. If Garrard is to blame, then surely Jack should know as a coach that he should pull him. He has stood by and watched mediocrity flourish in front of him without intervention.
Defensive coach? This defense is terrible! If he's not helping the defense, what is he helping?
Jack Del Rio is obviously not a personnel evaluator, but a coach. Shack Harris made the final decisions on the poor draft picks so he is the one who must be held ultimately responsible for poor drafting. After all if Jack was making draft decisions, Brady Quinn would be a Jaguar rather than Reggie Nelson. Del Rio has improved as a head coach during his time here and should be praised for his ability to lead his 2009 team to a mark close to .500. The head coach of a team should be judged on his ability to get their team to perform to the best of their ability. Does anybody really think these 2009 Jaguars were anything better than .500? Jack Del Rio deserves the opportunity to be judged with a QB other than David Garrard at the helm of his team.
Reasons to support:
David has not been given a situation with which he can succeed during his time with the Jaguars. It wasn't until 2009 that he finally got even remotely adequate receivers, but a pair of rookie tackles made it tough for him to ever have time. When it comes to protection, David has received none over the last two years and has been hit more than any quarterback in the league as a consequence. Ask any QB in the league to go in that situation and succeed. It simply can't be done.
He has been cited as inconsistent yet he is 2nd all time in interceptions thrown per pass attempts. Only 2% of the passes attempted in his career have been intercepted. An inconsistent quarterback would likely be throwing more interceptions than that.
His clutch ability has been questioned yet David was the one to lead two consecutive game winning drives in the month of November.
He has the arm and the ability to make all the throws, along with the legs to make plays happen when things breakdown. Give him time and he can be a Pro Bowl level QB as we saw in 2007.
Reasons to move on without him:
The amount of hits David Garrard has taken over the last two years is due to his inability to avoid the pass rush. Many times David has stepped into the rush rather than make the step that avoids the rush. His pocket presence is lackluster.
Even when David is given time, it is his inconsistent passing that has cost the Jaguars. He has overthrown open receivers and made poor decisions in too many clutch moments. Ultimately, he is the one on the field who can control whether this team wins or not and he has failed to do so during his time as a starter.
No one is doubting that his arm and athleticism are top notch, just his ability to use them at top notch has been nothing less than inconsistent. The 2009 4 game collapse directly paralleled the 2006 collapse and proved just as costly.
His knack for avoiding interceptions would be much more impressive if he had a knack for throwing touchdowns. For the second consecutive year David Garrard finished with 15 touchdown passes and double digit interceptions. His interception ratio ranking may be very high, but his touchdown ratio is tied for 185th all time. That's behind J.P. Losman, Kyle Orton, Byron Leftwich and Derek Anderson.
As for the game winning drives, that too is just another testament to his inconsistencies. One game he'll lead his team down the field for a score, the next he'll be running to the middle of the field to slide for 3 more yards, rather than step out of bounds and stop the clock.
David Garrard's inconsistencies have gone on too long in Jacksonville and a young replacement needs to be found as soon as possible. Garrard should stay around another year and teach a new QB the position before he leaves, but if the Jaguars do not find a young QB soon they are only delaying the rebuilding process. If a QB is drafted in the first round of the draft, Garrard is all but gone from the franchise barring a contract restructuring and an agreement to step into a backup role.