In their existence, only three quarterbacks have ever truly led the Jaguars on the field of battle: Mark Brunell, Byron Leftwich and David Garrard.
Brunell was arguably the best player in Jags history. He led the Jags to a 63-54 record and tossed 144 touchdowns in nine glorious seasons (from the view point of a Jags fan). Under his reign, the Jags made the playoffs four times, all in consecutive seasons (1996-99).
During the last year of Brunell's run, the Jags had on their bench a player who they thought was a franchise QB, Byron Leftwich. And when Leftwich ascended to the starting role they had a player they assumed was a capable backup, David Garrard. And while both players had their moments as Jags, neither has emerged as the savior of the franchise. The one to lead the Jags into the 21st century.
For the past three years, the Jags have had not only an opportunity to bring in a veteran passer, but also to pluck a youngster for molding through the draft. In that time, they have passed on Joe Flacco, Chad Henne, Josh Freeman, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy, all of whom are currently starting for their respective teams.
And those are just the starters. They've also passed on promising backups like Dennis Dixon, Rhett Bomar, and Tim Tebow.
You tell me, is there any starting QB that you would take Garrard over? I'll tell you who I would take over him. Any of these starters...
|Peyton Manning ||Eli Manning ||Tony Romo
|Donovan McNabb ||Matt Schaub ||Drew Brees
|Kyle Orton ||Philip Rivers ||Matt Cassel
|Sam Bradford ||Aaron Rodgers ||Matt Ryan
|Chad Henne ||Joe Flacco ||Tom Brady
|Matt Hasselbeck ||Ben Roethlisberger ||Matt Stafford
|Josh Freeman ||Mark Sanchez ||Michael Vick
|Brett Favre ||Vince Young ||Ryan Fitzpatrick
In addition, any of these backups
|Kevin Kolb ||Dennis Dixon
|Kerry Collins ||Charlie Whitehurst
|Shaun Hill ||Colt McCoy
|Jimmy Clausen ||Seneca Wallace
|Tim Tebow ||Bruce Gradkowski
Bottom line is, if the Jags ever want to put together a consistent winning team, they're going to need more than just a new coach. They're going to need a new QB. Someone not named Garrard.
As for options, well, they aren't as many as you'd think, and the main culprit for that is Jack Del Rio. This inconsistent son-of-a-gun actually has the Jags at 4-4, well out of range if the season ended right now for any of the 2011 franchise QBs. Andrew Luck looks like a lock to go number one overall right now, and Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett could be right behind him. All three could go in the top ten, one pick away from where the Jags currently sit.
That leaves two options.
1) Develop a middle-round, mid-range QB like Christian Ponder out of FSU. Ponder has good mobility, better than Garrard, and unlike the incumbent, accuracy is actually one of Ponder's strengths. He hasn't been 100% healthy yet this season, so we haven't even gotten a true gauge of how good he could be. Ponder is definitely an option.
Michigan State's Kirk Cousins could be another. Cousins is more of a game-manager, a la Garrard, and would likely do best in a system with a great running-back and good receiving corps. He's certainly not the type of QB who is going to win a game for you, but you could do a lot worse (see incumbent).
Or, they could go the Joe Flacco-esque root and take Flacco's successor at the tiny University of Delaware, Pat Devlin. Devlin was a one-time Pitt Panther, who slipped on the depth chart and scooted out of town to the Blue Hens, where he has quietly boosted his draft stock on the same merits that made Flacco a top-15 pick. Huge arm, football smarts, and decent mobility.
2) The Jags could scour the free-agent wire for a franchise-type QB. Or make a trade. Either way, consider this option the "bring someone in from outside the organization" method. My number one choice, and mind you, these have to be guys who are deemed "get-able," which means no Tim Tebow, is Buffalo's current starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Bills are inevitably going to finish with the worst record in the NFL and have Stanford's Andrew Luck plopped into their lap. They haven't had a franchise QB for an even longer period than the Jags, so they'll pounce on Luck, making Fitzpatrick expendable.
In Fitzpatrick, the Jags would get a smart, smart, SMART player who has done nothing but overachieve on the worst team in the league. He hasn't let the fact that the Bills have a crappy O-line, no running game, and sub-par receivers keep him down. In fact, he's blossomed, tossing 12 TDs and only five picks. And did I mention he went to Harvard? Smart, smart, smart!
Either way, I really don't care how the Jags do it, but go out and find yourselves a franchise QB. You can't keep waiting.
Eventually you'll turn into the Raiders.