The starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars seemed happy. Jacksonville business leaders greeted him enthusiastically. And then, just a few hours later, Coach Jack Del Rio did what Coach Jack Del Rio does — he cut that starting quarterback.
Pass the Pepcid.
Consequently, David Garrard is looking for a new team, the Jaguars are preparing to start Luke McCown on Sunday, rookie Blaine Gabbert is waiting in the wings and there’s an extra $9 million in the Jags’ bank account.
“The timing of it was really weird,” Garrard said.
The move was straight out of the Del Rio playbook, as Byron Leftwich well knows. Del Rio cut him nine days before the opener in 2007, opting to go with — wait for it — David Garrard. History shows that that move was successful with Garrard passing for 18 touchdowns (with three interceptions) as the Jaguars went to the playoffs and beat Pittsburgh.
Maybe it will work again. Maybe Del Rio will still be the coach next season, but the timing isn’t the only thing that looks weird. Early in training camp, Del Rio had proclaimed Garrard the starter in an effort to head off a “circus-type atmosphere.” Now, at the 11th hour, he has reversed field.
“We were hoping for some sign of life, for him to pick it up and get it going,” Del Rio said. “And we went to the 11th hour in hopes of having that happen, and it just became very obvious that it wasn’t going to happen.”
General Manager Gene Smith said that Garrard wasn’t cut Saturday because the team was still evaluating him. That meant that Garrard attended meetings Tuesday and was introduced as the starter at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon — where business leaders gave him a big cheer and Jaxon de Ville gave him the mascot kiss of death. Then he found out he was being released.
“He was very surprised,” his agent, Albert Irby, said. “This is a little bit of a shock to everybody. Our job is to move on. … Been assured that the job was his this year. That’s why we’re all shocked, and so was he. This had to be a last-minute decision. That’s the only thing I can say.”
Tough business. Now the focus turns from the Jags to Garrard’s future. Where will the 33-year-old QB end up? Seattle? San Francisco? Indianapolis? Miami? Garrard had these parting words, via Twitter:
“Thank you jaguar fans for an awesome ride! You are the best fans ever. You'll always have a special place in my heart and my family's heart!”