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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Upstart Jaguars and David Garrard Charge Into Foxboro For AFC Battle

By David

Entrenched in a quarterback struggle at the beginning of the season with embattled signal caller Byron Leftwich, backup David Garrard was presented with a myriad of challenges when he was unexpectedly propelled to the starting position by head coach Jack Del Rio.

After being drafted out of East Carolina in the 2002 draft, Garrard was relegated to the status of bench warmer for the previous four seasons in which he played a mere 17games and connected for eight touchdowns. When first-round pick Byron Leftwich tragically endured another debilitating injury last season, Garrard steered the Jaguars to a 5-5 mark, including a resounding 44-17 thrashing of the eventual Super Bowl champion Colts.

Faced with a significant decision as to which individual he sensed was ready to guide his team in the necessary direction in the years to come, Del Rio chose Garrard over the proven commodity in Leftwich. Unbenounced to most, Garrard has not only directed the Jaguars on a pathway to success, but has advanced them to a Saturday night showdown against the quintessential darlings to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy, the New England Patriots.

Furthermore, Garrard has displayed his unrelenting ability to perform at an optimal level without any spectrum of offensive targets to throw the ball to. While aided by the premier rushing attack in the AFC, Garrard has struggled to find consistency with such mediocre receivers as Dennis Northcutt, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones.

In his first full season as a starter, Garrard finished with a respectable 2,509 yards,an impressive 18 touchdowns thrown, a razor thin three interceptions and an improbable quarterback rating of 102.2.

Garrard's quarterback rating was third to MVP Tom Brady, All-Pro Ben Roethlisberger and ahead of future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb. For a player who has been restricted to holding the clip board and waiting five insurmountable years for his first prime opportunity, that is beyond remarkable and astounding.

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