The Jaguars are days away from their opening day game against the Titans. What would you do to pass the time? Cut the quarterback? Sounds like fun!
The sudden release of veteran quarterback David Garrard may have shocked fans, but the Jaguars players themselves seemed to have little qualms about handing the starting job to Luke McCown, who shined this preseason.
Garrard has played his whole 8-season career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, playing as the primary starter for the last 5 years. During that 8-year span, he has started 76 games, and assembled mixed statistics: 61.6% completion rate, two seasons over 3500 yards and 16,003 yards total, and a respectable 85.8 quarterback rating to go along with 179 sacks (good for a not-so-great 7.3% sack rate).
Meanwhile, Luke McCown has started only 7 games in his 5-year career, and only attempted a combined 24 regular season passes in two years with the Jaguars. Ironically, Joel Thorman ranked the Jags 22nd in the SBN Power Rankings, stating:
RB Maurice Jones-Drew will keep them competitive. A solid season from QB David Garrard could put them in the division title hunt.
Er, well, maybe not so much. If the Jaguars think this is a lost season -- which seems like a premature assessment, especially given the hot seat many of the management seem to sit on -- then cutting Garrard makes perfect sense: Let McCown show what he's got while the real deal, Blaine Gabbert, prepares for a mid-season anointing.
However, the AFC South is a division up for grabs. Football Outsider's DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) Rankings has the Houston Texans winning the division, with the Jaguars and Colts close behind.
In their first regular season action of the 2011 campaign, Jacksonville takes on the Tennessee Titans, ranked second-to-last in the aforementioned Football Outsider's rankings.
The Titans, who endured a miserable 6-10 season last year, enter the season with a new quarterback (Matt Hasselbeck, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks), a new middle linebacker (Barrett Ruud of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and a new head coach (Mike Munchak, the former offensive line coach for the Titans).
The Jaguars have a tough season ahead of them, and starting with a loss to the Titans will make it even tougher. Cutting Garrard days before the team faces its first -- and maybe only -- gimme game of the season may prove regrettable.
Let's hope the Jacksonville Jaguars know what they're doing.