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Jaguars release Garrard, plan to start McCown
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (AP) - David Garrard lost his starting job the same way he got it: Just days before the season opener and in stunning fashion. The Jacksonville Jaguars released Garrard on Tuesday, making a “pure football decision” that will save the franchise $9 million in 2011.
Del Rio made it clear late last season that he had grown tired of Garrard’s inconsistent ways, but the coach remained steadfast through training camp and the preseason that Garrard was his starter. That changed Tuesday, when the Jaguars parted ways with Garrard after nine up-and-down seasons.
“He just couldn’t get it going,” said Del Rio, who added that the team didn’t try to trade Garrard. “I had met with him a couple of weeks ago and brought him in and said, ‘Hey, listen, you’re my guy. I need you to get it going.’ He was given every opportunity. He was somewhat apologetic that he wasn’t able to deliver.”
Del Rio turned the starting job over to Luke McCown, who outplayed Garrard and rookie Blaine Gabbert in the preseason. Playing mostly with and against second- and third-teamers, McCown completed 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks.
“I was shocked by the decision,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “They obviously felt it was time to go in a different direction. Luke had a great camp, everyone knows that, and now he’s the guy. There’s no drop-off. We believe in Luke and we’re going to rally around him.”
Garrard missed the preseason opener because of a sore back, but started the final three games. He completed 50 percent of his passes for 216 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception. He was sacked three times.
“Thank you jaguar fans for an awesome ride! You are the best fans ever,” he wrote. “You’ll always have a special place in my heart and my family’s heart!”
The move was similar to what Del Rio did in 2007, when he released Byron Leftwich in favor of Garrard after the preseason finale. Garrard played well that season, throwing 18 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
He’s been average since, with 53 TDs and 38 INTs over the last three seasons. He also has been sacked 117 times in that span.
His performance late last season was one of the final straws.
With running back Maurice Jones-Drew sitting out against Washington, the Jaguars put the game on Garrard’s shoulders and he struggled to handle the load. He failed to read Washington’s cloaked defensive schemes and nearly ended the day with five turnovers.
The Jaguars responded by drafting Gabbert with the 10th pick in April’s draft. Gabbert would have been given a chance to win the starting job in camp, but the NFL lockout denied him a a summer filled with meetings, film work and organized team activities.
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