I know what you're thinking: how is the case to keep Garrard different from the case to sit Gabbert? Despite my initial hesitance, I've come around to the selection of Gabbert at this point because I do see the value in having a potential Franchise QB. It really can make or break a team. So far, we've heard the case to sit Gabbert and the case to start him from more than one sources, but allow me to take a different approach to the issue. By writing about the case to keep Garrard, I'd like to emphasize what many seem to have forgotten here on BCC recently: David Garrard is the starting quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars until further notice.
There's certainly nothing wrong with preparing Gabbert to assume Garrard's role, as Gabbert likely will take over sooner rather than later. However, "sooner" doesn't mean "now." For those with insane memories, perhaps you can recall what Jack Del Rio said about Garrard after the 2007 season. When asked if Del Rio was hoping for Garrard to repeat his 15 TD to 3 INT year, Del Rio said he would prefer to see something more like 25 TDs to 12 INT's because it would mean that the Jaguars had the type of passing offense that could get down the field. Well, in thirteen games (and one quarter in Tennessee) Garrard threw for 23 TDs and 15 INTs. Not exactly what Del Rio wanted, but close.
The Jaguars were 15th in total yards, but as I like to warn people... Stats lie. The Jaguars' special teams were the best in the NFL, shifting the field at least 30 to 40 yards of field position per game more than the average team. It hurt the Jaguars offensive rankings the same way that all of the Chargers' special teams incompetence made them the number 1 defense.
Assuming the scoring was the same, the Jaguars total yardage would have been good enough to move them up a few spots. So essentially, what you have with Garrard in charge of the offense is a team that moves the ball consistently and effectively. The Garrard-led Jaguars averaged less than one three-and-out series per game. The Garrard-led Jaguars set new team records for passing TDs for the QB and receiving TDs for the TE, Marcedes Lewis. The Garrard-led Jaguars were an offense that was consistently let down and put in difficult situations by a defense that bordered on incompetent, but still performed well enough to bring the team to an 8-8 record.
The amount of pressure Garrard faced because of teams not respecting the Jaguars passing game was significant. His play in a few games was greatly hampered by drops (cough cough Tiquan Underwood) as well. The Jaguars overachieved for a team in year two of rebuilding and if people are going to put the failures of the team on Garrard, then I will also put the successes of the 2010 team on Garrard. When you think about it, the two games Garrard was out with a concussion, the Jaguars lost. When Garrard left early against the Titans, the offense went stagnant. Garrard may not be a star, but he his undoubtedly an effective NFL QB.
Also, here's the most obvious reason I think Garrard will remain the Jaguars QB: Gene Smith doesn't think Gabbert is ready. How do I know? Listen for yourself from 6:15 on. Here's a rough transcript:
Q: Do you think he [Gabbert] is NFL ready? Like, to start quickly?
Gene: Well, again, you know, he's an underclassman coming out of a shotgun, spread offense... I can't put a timeline on when he'll actually play, but we feel he's not only got the physical skills but the mental skills to develop into someone that'll be a good player for us in the future but I can't put a definitive timeline on that."
He'll DEVELOP into someone IN THE FUTURE. That doesn't sound like a coach talking about a week one starter. Also, note that Gene didn't answer the question with a yes. He hemmed and hawed. GM Gene did not see Gabbert as NFL ready. You know who is ready to start in the NFL? Garrard.
That's why the Jaguars should keep David Garrard as the team's starting quarterback.