Heading into the second pre-season game of the season on Saturday, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard knew the wolves were after him. "I think it was probably a little overanalyzed last week. We went into a game in Philly with not one but two tackles (out) and there was probably a little bit of a guarded approached to how we began the game in Philly. And I think we were a little more willing to do some things tonight that gave David a chance," head coach Jack Del Rio said after the game.
Garrard didn't slam the door shut for the wolves nipping at his heels, but he did push the door to only a crack. Garrard came out for his first drive and hit a 7-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, followed by a run by Maurice Jones-Drew for a loss of 6-yards and then Garrard missed Maurice Jones-Drew over the middle of the field for what would have been a first down.
Blood was surely in the air now for the wolves, after another David Garrard three-and-out.Luckily for David Garrard, the Jacksonville Jaguars much maligned defense came out with purpose on the first drive after punter Adam Podlesh dropped a punt right on the Dolphins 5-yard line out of bounds, pinning the Miami Dolphins deep in their own territory. On the first offensive play for the Dolphins, Chad Henne was sacked by two new additions to the Jaguars pass rush, defensive end Aaron Kampman and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. Kampman forced Chad Henne up and moved him out of the pocket while Alualu cleaned up the play, almost registering a safety. That safety would come a few plays later after back up running back Rashad Jennings sliced through the blocking to block the punt.
On Garrard's next drive however, he showed some of the ability we all know he has. On the first play of the second drive, Garrard hit Mike Sims-Walker for a 35-yard gain down the middle of the field. If I really wanted to nit-pick, I could complain that if the ball was leading Sims-Walker instead of forcing him to leap for the ball, it would have been a 78-yard touchdown toss. None the less, it was a good throw and catch for a chunk of yardage. Two plays later on third down, Garrard hit Sims-Walker again on a route over the middle for a long catch and run for 22 yards. After failing to punch the ball in the endzone on three running plays, Garrard hit second year receiver Mike Thomas on quick short pass in the endzone for an easy touchdown.
Good drive for Garrard. The wolves will be quiet, for now.
On David Garrard's third drive it was a big cluster word-I-will-not-type.
A 47-yard kick return by rookie Deji Karim was called back for an illegal wedge, starting the drive on the 7-yard line instead of at mid-field. A short pass to fullback Greg Jones was called back for holding by right tackle Jordan Black, and the very next play a 6-yard run by Rashad Jennings was called back by an illegal procedure call again on Jordan Black. Finally on the third first down play Garrard hit Troy Williamson for a short pass, which was nearly called back for another illegal procedure penalty on Jordan Black, but after a conference the penalty was called off and the play stood. The very next play, David Garrard just barely overthrew a pass that was bobbled off the outstretched fingertips of Troy Williamson as he tried to haul in the catch. Garrard was planted to the ground and slow to get up after the throw. Veteran defensive end Charlies Grant beat guard Uche Nwaneri with a spin move to the inside and had a free shot on the quarterback, sending David Garrard out with a minor rib-injury.
Backup quarterback Luke McCown came in in relief, and faired just fine with the first team offense to close out the half. McCown had two nice long passes before the half and continued to play well to finish out the football game. Later in the game McCown sailed some throws and was behind on some throws, one of which was intercepted missing wide receiver Jarrett Dillard over the middle of the field. McCown didn't put on the aerial display he did against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was good enough to still be applying pressure to the starting quarterback David Garrard.
"There were a lot of positive things to happen tonight but you tend to think on two or three plays that were there for us to make and we didn’t make them," said McCown following the game.
The clamoring for Luke McCown to get time with the first team should die down a bit, but Garrard was still inconsistent at times despite playing well. In order to completely shut the wolves out, Garrard needs to carry the momentum into this upcoming Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At the same time, Luke McCown will hopefully continue to put pressure on David Garrard, as he seems to be responding to the challenge.