NFL starting QB released 5 days before opener


NFL starting QB released 5 days before opener

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, September 6, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars released veteran quarterback David Garrard on Tuesday, a stunning move that will save the franchise 9 million this season. Whether it saves coach Jack Del Rio's job remains to be seen. Team owner Wayne Weaver has said Jacksonville needs to make the playoffs for Del Rio to stick around for a 10th season. Del Rio made it clear late last season that he had grown tired of Garrard's inconsistent ways, but the coach remained steadfast through training camp and the preseason that Garrard was his starter. That changed Tuesday, when the Jaguars scheduled an afternoon news conference to discuss their decision. Del Rio will turn the starting job over to Luke McCown, who outplayed Garrard and rookie Blaine Gabbert in the preseason. But McCown played mostly with and against second- and third-teamers. McCown completed 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks. Garrard missed the preseason opener because of a sore back, but started the final three games. He completed 50 percent of his passes for 216 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception. He was sacked three times. Del Rio's quarterback swap is similar to what he did in 2007, when he released Byron Leftwich in favor of Garrard after the preseason. Garrard played well that season, throwing 18 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. He has been average since, with 53 TDs and 38 INTs over the last three seasons. He also has been sacked 117 times in that span. His performance late last season was one of the final straws. With running back Maurice Jones-Drew sitting out against Washington, the Jaguars put the game on Garrard's shoulders and he struggled to handle the load. He struggled to read Washington's cloaked defensive schemes and nearly ended the day with five turnovers. The Jaguars responded by drafting Gabbert with the 10th pick in April's draft. Gabbert might have had a chance to win the starting job, but the NFL lockout denied him a a summer filled with meetings, film work and organized team activities. Gabbert was dropped to third on the depth chart last week. McCown moved up to second, although no one knew he was actually auditioning for the starting job. Garrard was hit repeatedly in last week's preseason finale against St. Louis and had an animated exchange with his offensive line on the sideline. That, too, had become an issue inside the facility, with Garrard pointing the finger more often than taking the blame. He blamed an interception against Atlanta on receiver Mike Thomas and then ripped the line for Thursday's problems. Del Rio called Garrard a middle-tier quarterback after the 2009 season, and Weaver challenged the quarterback to do more with teammates that offseason. Garrard did. He responded by setting the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season (23), enjoyed five of the best eight games of his career, and led the Jaguars to several late wins. But he struggled down the stretch. It became clear Monday how teammates felt about Garrard. They declined to vote Garrard a team captain, instead choosing Jones-Drew and tight end Marcedes Lewis as offensive captains.

Stars, studs and duds: Stevens shows confidence in Brown


Stars, studs and duds: Stevens shows confidence in Brown

Jaylen Brown made a costly turnover in the final minute that contributed to Boston’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

The fact that he was even in the game at that point speaks to not just his potential, but the level of confidence the rookie has already garnered from the Boston Celtics coaching staff.

Brown, who had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting on Thursday, turned the ball over with less than a minute to play and the Celtics trailing 101-99 at the time.

Moments after the turnover, Chicago’s Dwyane Wade drained a step-back 3-pointer that sealed the Bulls’ victory.

Disappointed with the game’s outcome, Brown acknowledged that it meant a lot to him for Stevens to have enough confidence in him to keep him on the floor down the stretch.

But with that faith comes added pressure for Brown to come through and deliver.

“It means I have to do better and try and execute for my team and earn everything I get,” Brown told reporters after the game. “I don’t want anything given to me just because I’m the number three pick in the draft.”

Stevens was asked about having Brown on the floor in the game’s closing seconds.

“He (Brown) was playing pretty well and I thought we were better off playing small,” Stevens said. “I wanted to keep Jaylen in there. I thought he did a lot of good things tonight.”

“Obviously that play didn’t go his way,” Stevens said.

On the play in question, Brown was matched up with Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic. Brown began to make a move, and eventually spun away from Mirotic and left his feet.

Brown was called for the turnover when he left his feet to make a pass, but didn’t release the ball until after he had landed – a traveling violation.

“I was looking for an outlet,” said Brown in explaining his late-game miscue. “I should have just shot the ball but I was thinking it was a bad shot. I probably should have just shot it. I just saw Mirotic on me, slower feet. Coach (Stevens) told me to drive him so I tried to be aggressive. I should have made a play.”

Brown added, “Just have to come out and execute, and play the game the right way. I want to make coach feel like he has a reason to put me out on the floor.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Thursday night’s game.



Dwyane Wade

The Chicago native gave his family and friends plenty to cheer about on Thursday. In his first game playing for his hometown Chicago Bulls, Wade had 22 points which included a back-breaking 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play that pretty much sealed the Bulls victory. Consider this: He made a total of seven 3-pointers all last season. He had four on Thursday.

Isaiah Thomas

For the second straight game, Thomas tallied 25 points and continued to shoot the ball extremely well. His 25 points on Thursday came on 10-for-15 shooting. He also had four assists and three rebounds.

Jimmy Butler

Butler was among the Chicago players who shot the ball much, much better from 3-point range than they usually do. He finished with a team-high 24 points which included him knocking down four of his six 3-point attempts.



Avery Bradley

Bradley provided a nice offensive complement to Thomas’ high scoring night, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Bradley also made his presence felt on the boards and as a distributor with six rebounds and five assists.

Nikola Mirotic

He may have lost out on a starting job to Taj Gibson, but Mirotic’s value to the Bulls is clear. Mirotic had 15 points off the bench, shooting 6-for-11 from the field in addition to nine rebounds.



Second-chance points

Boston’s only two games into the season, but second-chance points looks to be an issue with no clear-cut solution. For the second straight game, Boston was outscored by double digits in second-chance points. On Thursday, Chicago had an 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.