Turns out Jack Del Rio is really into creating chaos at the quarterback position right before the season. With his job seemingly on the line (again), the Jaguars have released David Garrard and going with Luke McCown as their starting quarterback to open the season. If this seems like Deja Vu to you, it should. It was just a few short years ago that Garrard was the beneficiary of the September release of Byron Leftwich. Let’s take a look at the players whose values are changed most by this unexpected move.
Luke McCown, QB JAX
McCown has played in a total of 16 games in his eight year career with stints in Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. His career stats are mediocre at best. After all, a completion percentage of 59.2% and a touchdown to interception ratio of 9:10 don’t exactly scream “all pro.”
The numbers really don’t tell the entire story with McCown. If you go back to last preseason, he was severely outplaying David Garrard and was clearly in the mix for the starting job before a torn ACL ended his season. He’s always been a player I’ve personally wanted to see get a chance, just so we could see what he could actually do. He’s a bit of a risk taker, but the Jaguar offense shouldn’t be downgraded too much with McCown in over Garrard. After all, Garrard was historically one of the most inconsistent players in both reality and fantasy.
Realistically, the Jaguars are making a financial decision by releasing Garrard – letting him go saves them around $8 million in salary. However, they must feel that McCown can at least give them a chance to win as many games as Garrard did, otherwise Jack Del Rio would be sealing his own fate.
In the end, it’s very obvious that Blaine Gabbert isn’t ready to lead an NFL team, so McCown should get an extended look. He’s worth a roster stash in case he plays well in what should be his last audition for the Jaguars and the rest of the league. In a best case scenario, McCown could ascend to be a bye week option if he can perform at a high level. At least he gets a legitimate chance in the league.
David Garrard, QB FA
You have to feel for Garrard as he didn’t see it coming. In the end, it may be the best thing for him. While the Jags are certainly cutting bait with him due to his inconsistent play and high salary, his back is a serious issue as well. He was ready to play this season, but is now said to be considering retirement due to the constant treatment and pain he’s enduring.
Garrard will always be remembered for his incredibly consistent bouts of inconsistency. For example, he had a two game stretch last season where he threw for a total of just 278 yards with one touchdown and a total of six turnovers. He followed that up later in the year with a two game stretch where he threw for 602 yards, accounted for six touchdowns (including one rushing) and had just one turnover. Maddening.
With a chronically bad back and virtually no chance to realistically compete for a starting job at this point, the 33 year old Garrard can be dropped in dynasty leagues if you’re in need of the roster space. If not, hold on to him and see how this plays out over the next week or so.
Blaine Gabbert, QB JAX
With McCown in and Garrard out, Gabbert is one injury away from starting in the NFL. He’s most certainly the Jags quarterback of the future, but he didn’t look the part in the preseason. While he has all the skills you’d want, he’s simply not comfortable enough with the offense to be effective just yet. Gabbert remains a project quarterback and shouldn’t be rushed any faster to the field with McCown in and Garrard out, barring injury.
Gabbert owners should realistically hope McCown can play well enough to hold down the fort for most, if not all of the season. If McCown really struggles and Del Rio’s seat gets hotter, it’s possible he could get thrown into the fire before his ready. It’s most likely Gabbert starts after the bye week.
Let’s all cross our fingers and hope he’s ready.
Jacksonville Skill Players
As noted before, the Jaguar skill players shouldn’t be downgraded too much. While McCown is unproven, he does provide good arm strength and a willingness to take some chances with the receiving corps. While that will undoubtedly lead to turnovers, it should lead to some solid plays as well. While this move doesn’t help the group, it’s not catastrophic, either. Garrard was likely keeping the seat warm for Gabbert to play later this season anyway.
This should be the last bit of big news before the season. Stay with us all year for weekly analysis, advice and strategic tips as we navigate through another exciting year at DLF.