Updated Sept. 6, 2011 @ 10:49 p.m. ET
Posted Sept. 6, 2011 @ 3:31 p.m. ET
Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said the team's stunning announcement Tuesday that it was releasing projected starting QB David Garrard was the result of the veteran's inability to perform at the level the team was expecting.
"He just couldn't get it going," Del Rio said. "I had met with him a couple of weeks ago and brought him in and said, 'Hey, listen, you're my guy. I need you to get it going.' He was given every opportunity. He was somewhat apologetic that he wasn't able to deliver."
Del Rio and GM Gene Smith told reporters that their decision to release the 10th-year player and turn to journeyman Luke McCown as the starter was made in the best interests of the franchise.
"This decision was pure football," Del Rio said. "Gene and I met at length — really over several weeks — about the position."
"Been assured that the job was his this year," Garrard's agent, Al Irby, said Tuesday. "That's why we're all shocked, and so was he. This had to be a last-minute decision; that's the only thing I can say. I don't think these guys would purposely tell me one thing and (do another)."
Irby said Tuesday that three teams had already contacted him about his client, but he declined to reveal the identity of the teams — at their request, he said.
Garrard had been the team's starter for most of the past five seasons. Early in camp, it appeared he would have to compete with rookie Blaine Gabbert, but Del Rio said Garrard would start in Week One. Now, McCown has the reins.
Garrard was due to make just shy of $8 million in base salary for 2011. He started 14 games last season and threw a career-high 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
McCown has seven career starts in his seven seasons. In one game last season with Jacksonville he completed 11-of-19 passes for 120 yards.
Coincidentally, just nine days before the 2007 season, Del Rio and the Jags parted ways with then-starting QB Byron Leftwich, choosing to switch to then-backup Garrard as their starter.
The way we see it
Garrard did not have a good preseason, and Gabbert did not look ready to start on Day One for the Jags. McCown was the most consistent signalcaller throughout Jaguars camp, and some observers felt that he could have taken Garrard's job last season before tearing his ACL. One has to wonder whether Garrard's salary played a role in the decision, as well. In any case, Gabbert did not capitalize on an early opportunity to start as a rookie, so until he is ready, it's McCown's offense.