The Jaguars are facing a short week of preparation after losing 30-3 to the Tennessee Titans at home on Monday Night Football in Week 6. Jacksonville signed free agents Patrick Ramsey and Todd Bouman to the active roster Wednesday, suggesting that Garrard and Edwards aren't expected to be ready.
Luckily, none of those four quarterbacks factor into the Jaguars' long-term plans.
That much became painfully clear in the first half of Monday's loss. Before Garrard left, concussed, as Edwards led Jacksonville's last drive before the break, he had thrown for 49 yards and a head-scratching interception on 7-of-12 passing as the Jaguars' offense sputtered out.
In Jacksonville's three wins this year, Garrard threw eight touchdowns and only one interception; in the three losses, he managed only one score to offset his six picks. His passer rating was an awesome 133.4 in the wins and an abysmal 34.6 in the losses.
You'd expect winning numbers to be better than losing numbers, but that's downright schizophrenic.
Edwards' performance in just over two quarters of work against Tennessee was much the same. He was working with a limited playbook and an unfamiliar supporting cast, but that doesn't completely explain the difference between his crisp two-minute drive at first and his lame-duck play thereafter.
It's more likely that he saw holes in the Titans' first-half defense he could exploit, then faltered when they changed things up on him after halftime. Garrard, too, has played his best when going downhill against an obvious weakness in the defense.
All quarterbacks do. That's why even slow-witted passers like Philadelphia's Michael Vick and Tennessee's Vince Young have enjoyed unusual success against the Jaguars' sluggish secondary this season.
For now, Jacksonville will have to make do with such up-and-down play under center, whether it's Garrard, Edwards, or anyone who's available off the street. Ramsey, the Jaguars' probable starter this week, has seen the same highs and lows—especially the lows—in his nine-year, seven-team career.
But with the 2011 NFL Draft looming, it's unlikely that Jacksonville will accept the current standard at quarterback past this season. The near-instant success of recent first-rounders like Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman has shown that a rookie signal-caller can be a long-term and short-term solution.
Which one? That's less important at present.
(Feel free to vote in the poll or opine in the comments.)
As Garrard waits to return from his concussion, Edwards works his way back from a thumb injury, and Ramsey auditions for more-permanent employment in the meantime, it's the faceless specter of next year's rookie that casts a shadow over their competition.
Garrard's injury has opened the door for Del Rio to allow a "position battle" without ever using those words. Just ask Vick and Kevin Kolb, who've each shuffled up and down the depth chart in Philadelphia due to the other's health.
Thankfully, it'll just be the undercard.
Out of the current cast of competitors, Garrard's still the odds-on favorite. But the last man standing, whoever he is, can count on facing a first-round headliner in next summer's main event.