No matter your opinion of how good David Garrard is, there is one thing everyone can agree on: It's prove it time for David Garrard.
Back during mini-camp, I wrote about the pressure that is on quarterback David Garrard this upcoming season.
After a week of camp the quarterbacks have been shaky and inconsistent throughout. There have been some good plays, some bad ones, but most of the time it's the same-ol' same-ol' for the Jaguars quarterbacks: Inconsistency.
Heading into the scrimmage tonight, which will likely be infront of 10,000+ season ticket holders... Someone needs to step up.
We all know about the re-dedication David Garrard accepted this past off-season at the pushing of owner Wayne Weaver and head coach Jack Del Rio, so I won't re-hash much of that. To me so far in camp, David Garrard has looked a lot like David Garrard. He'll make you say "Wow" and he'll make you say "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," on the very next play. The same thing goes for back up Luke McCown who was supposed to push David Garrard, but so far that hasn't been the case. McCown even had a full evening practice in full pads while Garrard took a veteran night off, and Luke failed to really make any kind of impression other than looking pretty average.
To me, the most noticable difference in David Garrard in camp is he's making a noticable effort to be more of a vocal leader and correcting his guys. If a receiver runs a bad route, he'll let him know. If a lineman blows an assignment, he'll go talk to them about it. It's a quality the best quarterbacks in the game have and utilize. I'm sure most expect me to rip him for getting in his players faces, thinking I'd say he's shifting blame and throwing guys under the bus. While Garrard certainly has done that in the past, in this instance he's doing it when he should: Right after the play happens and in the heat of the moment.
"David is a little bit of a pleaser. He doesn’t often want to put anybody down or criticize somebody," Del Rio told reporters after practice. "But at some point, you got to step up and say, 'This is not going to get it done.’ When you’re personally more accountable, then I think you can demand accountability around you and I think that’s what he’s done," added coach Del Rio
David Garrard agreed.
"When you see the elite quarterbacks in this league, they get on their guys," Garrard told Gene Frennette of the Florida Times-Union. "I haven’t been that, never have. That’s something I’ve been working on this off-season. We have to be more serious in what we’re doing. If we want to win championships, we can’t be the young, playful, everybody-gallivanting-around kind of team."
I know people have criticized David in the past for joking on the sidelines while the team's been blown out or smiling and throwing his arms in the air after scoring a touchdown in the closing moments of a loss. I don't really care about those things, but it certainly doesn't help the perception when a few weeks later after the season you're called out so-to-speak by your head coach and boss. Believe you me, these players care when they're on the field. At the heart of the matter though it's still a game, but I can understand when people get upset given the emotional investment in rooting for a football team. But, I digress. Garrard has noticed this and made a concerted effort to change that, and it shows so far. Hopefully as camp goes on, this noticeable change will spread to other parts of his game that he's been working on. If anything, it shows his work in the off-season is legit and not just lip service.
Heading into the scrimmage tonight, it's important for David Garrard to perform well. He's gotten some cheers on plays in training camp and he's gotten some "C'MON DAVE!" from the bleachers. The scrimmage however is a different ball game, it's hyped and fans feel it's important. It's a way to get the fan base fired up for the upcoming season. If David Garrard plays great in the scrimmage, it's going to fire people up. People will be talking about how the offense looks, because let's face it... that's what most people care about, offense.
Football is a team game, but there's a lot of weight on David Garrard's shoulders this season. Not just for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but also for his future in the NFL. If he can't put it together for a third straight season, no matter the circumstances, it's going to hamper Garrard's chances to remain on the team next season or even a starter somewhere else.
He's got the tools, it just all needs to be put together.
I personally expect him to show strong tonight. He has to.