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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Jaguars game:
Jaguars QB David Garrard vs. Browns pass defense
On Friday, we focused on the potentially tough matchup that aguars TE Marcedes Lewis could present for Cleveland. Now, we take a closer look at Lewis' quarterback, David Garrard.
Less than two months ago, speculation raged about Garrard's future as the Jaguars' starting quarterback. Garrard played poorly in losses at San Diego and vs. Jacksonville, dropping the Jaguars' record to 1-2, and the team claimed former Bills QB Trent Edwards off waivers days before it hosted powerful Indianapolis.
But Garrard rebounded, leading an upset of the Colts. And since early October, he has been outstanding, completing better than 77 percent of his passes in all four of his starts not shortened by injury (he left the Week Six loss to Tennessee with a concussion, and the Jaguars were blown out 30-3).
In his last two starts, wins over the Texans and Cowboys, Garrard has completed 41-of-52 passes for 602 yards with six TDs and no interceptions. Also, he's averaging an impressive 11.6 yards per attempt in those last two outings.
In short, not only has Garrard been exceptionally accurate and prudent with the ball, but he's stretching the field, too, which has to be maddening to defenses having to worry about slowing the Jaguars' strong running game, too.
It's up to Browns defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and his pass defense to rattle Garrard, and that will not be easy. Garrard is one of the game's more mobile quarterbacks, and at a powerful 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds, he can be tough to take down.
Opponents are completing 61.8 percent of their passes vs. the Browns, who have 16 sacks, which ranks below the league average. Cleveland has surrendered 17 TD passes and has allowed 245.3 passing yards per game.
The club's CB play could be a concern. Eric Wright has regressed after playing well last season, and fellow starter Sheldon Brown (shoulder) is questionable for Sunday's game. Rookie Joe Haden is a very capable replacement for Brown, but Brown's absence would thin the depth in the secondary. Moreover, versatile reserve CB Mike Adams (abdomen) is also questionable.
The Jaguars are expected to be without WR Mike Sims-Walker, who is doubtful with an ankle injury. Kassim Osgood would likely step into his place in the lineup. Lewis and second-year WR Mike Thomas (8-149-1 in Week 10) figure to be among Garrard's top targets vs. Cleveland.