Skip to main content

Now full-fledged starter, Garrard gets another shot at Titans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- David Garrard's last game against Tennessee was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

He threw three interceptions and fumbled once, a turnover-filled performance that prompted Jacksonville to give Byron Leftwich another chance at the starting job.

Now, after a surprising turn of events, Garrard gets another shot at the Titans. And for the first time in his career, he won't have to look over his shoulder to see how long this starting gig will last.

"I'm just happy to be able to persevere through the offseason and through the preseason to be at this point," Garrard said Wednesday.

Garrard was made the starter last week when coach Jack Del Rio announced the team was parting ways with Leftwich after four injury-filled seasons.

Garrard was as shocked as anyone, especially after the way last season ended.

The Jaguars lost three in a row and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, and Garrard was benched in the season finale at Kansas City. Two months later, Del Rio made Leftwich the starter.

"It's always tough whenever anybody has to be a backup because everybody wants to play, especially when you get as many games as I did last year and have success in a lot of those," said Garrard, who is 10-8 as a starter. "I knew I had a chance to seal the deal, and a couple of plays here and there didn't allow that.

"I understood what went down. I didn't like it. You just have to wait for the right time, and I did."

His wait could have been longer after the 24-17 loss at Tennessee.

Garrard threw for 233 yards and a touchdown, ran for 43 more yards and created several big plays. But he also had four turnovers -- three of them were returned for touchdowns -- and was sacked four times.

It was the worst day of his five-year career and was devastating to Jacksonville's playoff hopes.

Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver acknowledged Wednesday that the Jaguars may have "over-evaluated" Garrard based on that game.

"Maybe that was the mistake that we made," Weaver said.

Few would blame them for questioning Garrard after that one.

Jacksonville dominated the Titans on both sides of the ball. The Jags finished with 396 total yards, including 202 yards rushing, and managed 23 first downs. The defense allowed 98 total yards and five first downs.

But Garrard's mistakes evened the playing field.

"When anybody has a game like that it's definitely going to be disappointing," Garrard said. "I feel like I've learned from it. There's not going to be a quarterback in this league that doesn't have a tough day like that. You just learn and move on.

"This is a great opportunity to go out and show the things that I've learned and just play my game."

Tennessee's Adam "Pacman" Jones returned the first interception 83 yards for a touchdown. Cortland Finnegan scooped up Garrard's fumble in the third and ran 92 yards for a score to break a 10-10 tie.

A few plays later, Chris Hope picked off Garrard and raced 61 yards for the winning points.

Despite Garrard's performance in Tennessee, Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he deserved a chance to start.

"He's poised. He sees the field well. He's very instinctive. He's a strong runner and he's a very accurate passer on the run and can make all the throws," Fisher said. "There is no question that we've felt over the last few years that he was deserving of a starting opportunity. The decision that was made was obviously made for reasons that we're not aware of, but I feel like he has a great future ahead of him."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.