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Del Rio goes all in, again

Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

With Tuesday’s stunning news that the Jaguars have released starting quarterback David Garrard, coach Jack Del Rio has taken a page out of his own playbook, almost exactly four years later.

In 2007, on the last business day before the start of the three-day Labor Day weekend, Del Rio dumped Byron Leftwich and elevated Garrard.  The move came at a time when Del Rio widely was believed to be on a playoffs-or-else mandate.

The gamble worked, and Del Rio scored a long-term extension, the buyout associated with which arguably has saved his job after multiple disappointing seasons since then.

Now, with the heat on Del Rio again and the AFC South up for grabs, Del Rio has pushed his chips, his car keys, his wallet, and his whistle into the middle of the table, releasing Garrard on the first business day after the unofficial end of summer.

Per Jay Glazer of FOX, the job now falls to Luke McCown.  Presumably, Del Rio eventually will give the ball to rookie Blaine Gabbert, if/when McCown struggles and/or Gabbert is ready.

The impact of the move on the locker room could be significant.  Running back Maurice Jones-Drew told Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of SiriusXM NFL Raio after Gabbert arrived that “David’s our guy and he’s always going to be our guy. . . .  I mean, since I’ve been there that’s all I know and that’s who I played with from the beginning.  When I was a backup and he was the backup we played together, we have a bond.  So I know David will fight through it.  It’s going to be tough at first.  It’s always tough when they draft at your position but David’s a strong guy, strong minded.  He’ll be able to go out there, fight through it and we’ll win games.”

The Jags may win games, but they’ll do it without Garrard.

Garrard immediately becomes a free agent, and teams with needs at the quarterback position would be wise to consider his services.  By dumping him so close to the start of the season, however, the Jaguars have made it hard for Garrard to have a meaningful opportunity to start.

Look for the 49ers, who recently cut Luke McCown’s brother, Josh, to consider pursuing Garrard.  Ditto for the Dolphins, who have been forced to settle for Chad Henne.  Other potential destinations include the Bills, Steelers (where he’d replace Leftwich again), Colts (if they think Garrard is better than Kerry Collins), Chiefs (where Matt Cassel is dinged up and the cupboard is bare behind him), Redskins (for obvious reasons), and Seahawks (ditto).

And then there are the Eagles, who may sign Garrard just to show the rest of us that they can.

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80 Responses to “Del Rio goes all in, again”
  1. medtxpack says: Sep 6, 2011 3:41 PM

    what a gamble…i wonder what MJD will tweet now…

  2. vbe2 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:42 PM

    Cutting your previous starter with less than a week to the first game (twice in a few years) is a pretty scummy thing to do.

    Del Rio needs to go and go soon. I hope they fire him after all other teams have hired their new coaches too.

  3. mojo32jags says: Sep 6, 2011 3:42 PM

    called it 2 weeks ago…. i was right…

  4. ticalcaldwell says: Sep 6, 2011 3:42 PM

    1. This guy will find a job in a second

    2. Del Rio….buddy…one week before the season….again….really….you had to get cut him now….Did you need that roster spot that bad, that you had to cut the one guy who might help you….not the 50 other hacks you have on your team….The QB huh…..ok

  5. axespray says: Sep 6, 2011 3:43 PM

    Panthers?

  6. bennyblanco99 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:43 PM

    He’s coming to SF!!!

  7. silvernblackpa says: Sep 6, 2011 3:44 PM

    I’m not an NFL personnel guy, but I do play one on the Internet and I say if this guy isn’t a Cincinnati Bengal by morning, they’re insane.

    Andy Dalton can be a good QB in the NFL someday, but not right now.

  8. cured76 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:44 PM

    I didn’t know there were two McCowns. I just knew if you signed someone with that name, you were desperate for a QB.

  9. obxastronaut says: Sep 6, 2011 3:45 PM

    Are they mad?!

  10. readysethike says: Sep 6, 2011 3:46 PM

    Garrard is a decent QB. He’s not a franchise player but he’s average. Thats pretty messed up for the Jags to just dump him like that. He’ll get another chance.

    But what do they see in Luke McCown?

  11. americankris says: Sep 6, 2011 3:46 PM

    I can smell the fail all the way in Atlanta

  12. goawayeverybody says: Sep 6, 2011 3:47 PM

    Jack Del Rio is a clueless hack of a football coach and as long as he is with the Jaguars, they will never reach the playoffs again.

    You can write it down.

  13. batyuki says: Sep 6, 2011 3:47 PM

    I laughed so hard at the last sentence I spilled water everywhere… You owe me a laptop Mike !

  14. bhindenemylines says: Sep 6, 2011 3:47 PM

    What are the chances Shanihan goes after him?

  15. blancodiablo says: Sep 6, 2011 3:48 PM

    Garrard needs to go to a team that has 8ft tall wide receivers and those disguised as grass. He’ll hit ‘em everytime.

  16. yem123 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:50 PM

    With management making moves like this it’s no wonder they can’t sell season tickets.

  17. newtonscarpanthers says: Sep 6, 2011 3:50 PM

    Poor Mercedes. At least he got his money…

  18. jeffperk says: Sep 6, 2011 3:50 PM

    What about Baltimore? I can’t see Harbaugh/Newsome going into the season w/ a rookie as backup, even though Taylor had an awesome preseason.

  19. KIR says: Sep 6, 2011 3:51 PM

    Underperform, get hurt or old and your contract is terminated or renegotiated for less money. Outperform your contract, shut up and play out the remaining years. Yea, that sounds fair to me. News like this makes Chris Johnson looks like a genius. :-)

  20. sterilizecromartie says: Sep 6, 2011 3:51 PM

    This is actually the best move Del Rio can make for his career. Now, being mediocre is suddenly not such a bad thing considering his QBs are a journeyman (McCown) and a rookie (Gabbert). If they even win 6 games with those QBs, it looks like a solid coaching job by Del Rio. On the other hand, if they won 8 games with Garrard, it’s just another disappointing, underachieving season for Del Rio and the Jags… and he would likely have been fired.

  21. 4evrnyt says: Sep 6, 2011 3:51 PM

    Colts makes a lot of sense actually.

  22. thecoltsman says: Sep 6, 2011 3:52 PM

    And when the Texans choke and lose the division again as usual, their excuse will be?

  23. footballfanatic3431 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:52 PM

    How hilarious would it be if the Colts signed Garrard and won the AFC South.

  24. zeckwreck says: Sep 6, 2011 3:52 PM

    Oh, I get it…The Seahawks cut ties with Hasselbeck JUST to bank on Garrard landing with them. That logic is so sound!

    Seriously guys..

  25. dequan81 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:53 PM

    The teams you mentioned makes sense. Skins and Seahawks more so.

    If the Eagles signed him, I would like to see an investigation into their finances.

  26. brohamma says: Sep 6, 2011 3:55 PM

    I think Del Rio’s “all in” move with ducks (pocket deuces for the non-poker people) is going to result in an egg being layed in the W column.

  27. nyjetsman says: Sep 6, 2011 3:56 PM

    Dont count out the Jets goin after him Brunnel and oconnel are nothing to write home about.

  28. ilovefoolsball says: Sep 6, 2011 3:56 PM

    didn’t gabbert call him a “great” quarterback?

  29. orakpownd says: Sep 6, 2011 3:57 PM

    Del Rio…..There are not enough suits too make you look intelligent for this move.

    Garrard…stay safe in Cincy.

  30. weneedlinemen42 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:57 PM

    I really don’t think the Redskins are an option. Both the Shanahan’s want their offense executed exactly the way it is drawn up. McNabb found it too complicated to learn with a full off-season. Even with a stronger work ethic, Garrard would struggle to come to terms with it sufficiently to make an impact this season. They just wont want to take snaps away enough snaps from Grossman and Beck to make it possible for a new guy to step in later in the year.

    Garrard might be an option for next year. He has good mobility, so he’ll be able to execute all the roll-out plays and he isn’t that old.

    I feel a little sorry for Garrard. He has never really had a good group of receivers or great pass protection. He may not be the best passer around, but he is pretty decent. I feel even worse for Gabbert. It’s hard enough to be a rookie starter without your organistion painting a set of cross hairs on your back and then throwing you out there with hearty “the season is on you kid”.

  31. dolfan34 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:58 PM

    The Dolphins weren’t ‘forced to settle for Henne’. They consciously made a decision to stick with their starting QB, despite flirting with Kyle Orton. Dont’ make it seem that they were chasing a number of different QBs and came up short because that’s just not accurate.

    No thanks to this guy in Miami. It’s sink and swim with Henne and Moore and draft a first round QB next year if they fail.

  32. phillyphever says: Sep 6, 2011 3:58 PM

    “And then there are the Eagles, who may sign Garrard just to show the rest of us that they can.”

    If it means getting rid of Young, then I’m all for it.

  33. edavidberg says: Sep 6, 2011 3:58 PM

    $9 million is a lot of coin. Not much trade demand for a $9 million QB. This deal makes sense, although they should have tried to re-negotiate his contract before cutting him.

  34. heyguru1969 says: Sep 6, 2011 3:58 PM

    COINCIDENCE: Stanford just played their first game and won by 54 points. May be an indicator that he’s no Jake Locker when it comes to being a highly-hyped senior. We may not be talking about blackouts in Jacksonville for a very long time….

  35. conseannery says: Sep 6, 2011 3:59 PM

    Garrard’s agent: those phone calls you’re getting? That’s half the AFC West and NFC West calling.

  36. johnnyjagfan says: Sep 6, 2011 4:00 PM

    Amazing Jack has a job. Did it again.

  37. robigd says: Sep 6, 2011 4:00 PM

    I love how when he is finally released, the talking heads on here are trying to pump him up like he is a good QB.

    He is a serviceable backup at best, and was set to make 8 million this year.

  38. nflfan1326 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:01 PM

    Dang, all those teams need Garrard’s services. Boy do those teams have qb problems.

  39. blackqbwhiterb says: Sep 6, 2011 4:02 PM

    It’s as simple as this. If you lose a bunch of games with Garrard, you’re fired. if you lose with a Luke McCown/Blaine Gabbert season, you’re rebuilding and get more time…..And saved Mr. Weaver 8 million bucks he didn’t pay Garrard….This all adds up to Del Rio being a slick business mind, if you ask me….Cause they will lose a bunch of games….

  40. lawyermalloy says: Sep 6, 2011 4:02 PM

    Jack’s last year as head coach!

  41. theredbengal says: Sep 6, 2011 4:02 PM

    @Silvernblackpa

    The Bengals are a screwed up organization, but at least they have a plan, and it’s to start their rookie and take the lumps now. The Jags would be smart to do the same.

    How many more W’s would Garrard give the Bengals anyway? Would that outweigh pushing back your future a year?

  42. waitingguilty says: Sep 6, 2011 4:04 PM

    No way in hell Shanahan brings Garrard in. Come on man. Are you paying attention?

    We have Rex “Eff it I’m Going Deep” Grossman AND John “John Beck” Beck!

  43. grant444 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:06 PM

    Steelers would never look at Garrard – how many more black QBs do they need (Batch, Leftwich, Dixon)????

  44. scarletmacaw says: Sep 6, 2011 4:06 PM

    Could the Jags cut Del Rio too? Please?

  45. kingmj4891 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:07 PM

    Love this move. Gives the Colts a chance to win the division without Manning.

    Garrard is not an elite QB he only pretend to be. This is the best way to get Gabbert on the fields. Give him three to four week to really be ready and it is the Blaine Gabbert era in Jacksonville until they move to LA.

  46. huhfasi says: Sep 6, 2011 4:08 PM

    I mean, if Cincy signed him, would it really hurt? They’ve already got Luck contract worked out.

  47. jdandcoke says: Sep 6, 2011 4:09 PM

    honestly, there probably isnt one team in the nfl that wouldnt want garrard as their back-up QB. im assuming though that he’ll be holding out for a starting gig. either way, he’ll probably be employed again before the end of the week.

  48. dolphindad says: Sep 6, 2011 4:09 PM

    so where is all the outrage about how the Jags are not honoring a contract they signed? they owe Garrard 9M for this year.

  49. lawyermalloy says: Sep 6, 2011 4:10 PM

    Baltimore is in desperate need for a back up. This kid Taylor, while he looked decent against opposing 2nd and 3rd team defenses, is not close to being ready to play in the league. Garrard would be the perfect fit.

  50. zoxitic says: Sep 6, 2011 4:11 PM

    Jack del rio did not make the decision.
    Gene smith did

  51. mortimeryoung says: Sep 6, 2011 4:11 PM

    Lost in the shuffle here (I couldn’t believe it was only implied and not stated explicitly in the article) is that the move worked in ’07! Garrard played lights-out, made the playoffs, beat the Steelers (in Pittsburgh, only a few weeks after beating them in Pittsburgh during the regular season), and eventually lost in New England.

    In that ’07 Jags game against New England, Garrard played well! The game was a lot closer than the final score would indicate, too. Jacksonville had no defense for Tom Brady, but (gasp… guffaw… dismiss) New England had no defense for David Garrard, either! Jacksonville was two huge dropped passes away from staying in that game.

    So anyway, I like poker and I like the article title. I know that the all-in move “works every time until the last time”, or “works until it doesn’t.” But it’s hard to blame JDR for going to this move when IT WORKED LAST TIME.

  52. bearsrulepackdrool says: Sep 6, 2011 4:12 PM

    Garrard is taking his talents to South Beach. Book it!!

  53. funndamentals says: Sep 6, 2011 4:12 PM

    Mcnabbed.

  54. funkylovemonkey says: Sep 6, 2011 4:14 PM

    I actually wouldn’t mind if the 49ers signed him. He has slightly above average accuracy and slightly above average yards per completion. His TD/Int percentage isn’t anything to write home about, but he would be an upgrade at the QB position.

  55. tkraw33 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:14 PM

    Dude was due over 8 million this year. The Jags are not going to be that good with or without him and there is a negligible drop off between he and McCown. Wasn’t hard to see this one coming.

  56. granadafan says: Sep 6, 2011 4:15 PM

    Better Garard than any of the McClown brothers.

  57. fieldysnuts says: Sep 6, 2011 4:15 PM

    Jack did not cut Garrard. Gene Smith is the one that makes personnel decisions. Garrard barely out played the other 2 qbs so why pay that money.

  58. zinn22 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:15 PM

    I would imagine Garrad will not be signed until next week so his salary is not guaranteed.

    I am sure this is about money. They wanted him to take a pay cut and he would not. But why wait until the season starts? On its surface it seems like a very inconsiderate and mean thing to do. Many teams will show respect to veterans and release them early so they have a chance to get a job elsewhere. This is the kind of move that makes me want to root against the Jags.

  59. kevpft says: Sep 6, 2011 4:18 PM

    For Garrard’s sake, hope he doesn’t end up in Washington. (An indictment of team leadership there, not the team itself or its fans.)

    Seattle seems like a good fit. They don’t seem to know what the hell they’re doing either, and Garrard’s an upgrade to what they have. He’d be no use in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Indy (Kerry Collins is better). He’s no better than Henne, though he’d be a good backup there. Apart from Seattle, I’d say the Chiefs look like a good fit with Cassel’s vulnerability. Bears, anyone?

    But the team that could use him the most is Jacksonville. It seems completely crazy for them to cut him for Luke McCown and a talented-but-untrained rookie. If Gabbert’s your QB of the future, then you just removed what would have been his best mentor and example, someone who knows exactly what it means to be QB in the Jacksonville system.

    Maybe I’ll be shown to be wrong in a few years, but the number of NFL teams whose leadership seems to have no idea what it’s doing is creeping into the majority.

  60. marvinmillersucks says: Sep 6, 2011 4:19 PM

    I’m sure Garrard is “Devastated and Flabbergasted”, not because the Jag’s cut him, but he will probably clear waivers with that 8 mil price tag and not get a cash money offer until after week one. Stay thirsty my friend!

  61. shaunymac424 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:19 PM

    Stop saying that the Dolphins were stuck with Henne. They believe in him. They could have had VY or McNabb just like any other team in the league, but instead chose to see if their decision to take him will finally pay off.

    If it doesn’t, then they will at least know for sure that he can’t run an offense.

    If he does, all of the media types who hyped him up last season as a breakout performer before the season can kiss his grits.

  62. riverhorsey says: Sep 6, 2011 4:19 PM

    Pittsburgh will get him

  63. emoney12 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:33 PM

    Buffalo doesn’t need him. We already have a career backup starting for us.

  64. tformation says: Sep 6, 2011 4:33 PM

    Del Rio did Garrard a favor.

    Garrard will bounce back. Maybe not in 2011, but he’ll be back as a starting QB somewhere… Seattle would be my bet. Maybe Miami.

  65. giantfan92 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:34 PM

    Great move! Gene smith is really rebuilding this team from the ground up. Obviously garrard is nothing but a game manager and Gene made the correct decision, luke outplayed garrard in the preseason and gabbert will be ready to take over in a couple weeks. As a giants fan living in jacksonville I am a season ticket owner, I have nothing but faith in gene smith and the jaguars.

  66. tformation says: Sep 6, 2011 4:44 PM

    The pattern of this firing bothers me. Hope Blaine is paying attention to this. It’s probably how he will be fired in 2015.

  67. mnajb says: Sep 6, 2011 4:47 PM

    His back injury could simply be worse than previously thought, or could make him significantly worse than 8 million dollars worth, particularly in a season where he is not expected to play the whole year. They are not really in play-off position either way… So maybe it makes sense, or maybe it’s STUNNING!!!

  68. omegalh says: Sep 6, 2011 4:54 PM

    Del Rio just went all in for Andrew Luck. Seriously, why isn’t every bottom feeder team tanking this season? The next Peyton Manning and 15 years of 10 wins for 1 bad season. I’d take it.

    I think the Skins, 49ers, and the Seahawks are already doing it.

  69. feldman9000 says: Sep 6, 2011 4:55 PM

    Del Rio putting in all his chips to make sure this team is in LA next year.

  70. jaxisminorleagcity says: Sep 6, 2011 4:56 PM

    What an aweful franchise! LA Jags here they come!

  71. gotitan says: Sep 6, 2011 5:16 PM

    Either way, the Titans roll in and out of Jacksonville on Sunday undefeated.

  72. terrellblowens says: Sep 6, 2011 5:25 PM

    Del Rio is a sellout

  73. nomoreseasontix says: Sep 6, 2011 5:44 PM

    If this works, he’s a genius.
    But… Good luck.

  74. clayton43 says: Sep 6, 2011 5:57 PM

    Smart move since Gabbert is going to be replacing him at some point this year anyway…. They save 8 million to build around Gabbert for next year and beyond. I had no problem with Garrard but he hasnt lived up to his contract and promise.. a one year wonder and he got his start the same way when they let Leftwhich go.If Gabbert is going to be the future QB and plan on playing him this year then seems smart to me. Too much money for a QB that isnt going to get you to the playoffs. Cheers

  75. realfootballfan says: Sep 6, 2011 6:18 PM

    If the Jaguars don’t get rid of this clown after this season, they’ll continue to show why they’re one of the worst run franchises in football.

    Not only did they make a dumb decision to pay DAvid freaking Garrard franchise QB money, but then they happily extended this buffoon multiple years while guys like Tom Coughlin (he of that Super Bowl ring) and Lovie Smith (he of those 4 playoff appearances, Super Bowl appearance, and coming off of an NFC championship appearance) are constantly scrounging for another year or two on their contracts from their respective franchises.

    Then, they made another foolish move by trading up to get a QB who would have fell to you anyway because everyone with a competent scouting department saw that he was a mediocre college player from a weak conference, which usually leads to pro disaster when you try to make those guys “the man.” Until he stops looking for the pass rush more than he looks down the field, he’ll never succeed.

    But going back to Del Rio, it’s like I’ve always said, if you leave anyone anywhere long enough, the law of averages says that they’ll have a good season here or there (see Fisher, Jeff).

    The indictment on Del Rio is that this team 8 years into his tenure has no firm identity. They’re not some steller defensive squad, the offense is mediocre yearly, and the QB play is average and will continue to be average with deer in the headlights Gabbert.

    Other than that, he’s laid a terrific foundation.

  76. oldhamletman says: Sep 6, 2011 6:39 PM

    the Dolphins ARE ‘stuck’ with Henne, and Garrard makes sense for them….

    you Henne boosters seem to forget that prior to the lockout, everybody on the planet knew that Henne was gone…. he just got the lotto ticket when the lockout happened and jammed up the player flow in the off season….

    Henne stepped up with the work ethic and the leadership during the lockout, but now that he’s needing to show franchise strength, he’s not doing it no matter how many hiphiphorrah’s he’s getting from Sparano.

    they should get deeper by working out a deal with Garrard

  77. prior0knowledge says: Sep 6, 2011 6:46 PM

    this only shows that del rio is a dou-bag

  78. asublimeday says: Sep 7, 2011 4:28 AM

    Hey MJD, shut up. -Chicago

  79. stanjonathon says: Sep 7, 2011 8:37 AM

    I’m guessing they wanted him to renegotiate his contract and figured the further they went in training camp the more leverage would have over Gabbard because his similar paying options with other teams would dwindle.

    What’s really cold is that they had him represent the team at a Chamber of Commerce lunch to drum up season ticket sales the day that they cut him.

    Nice…

  80. mogogo1 says: Sep 7, 2011 10:05 AM

    They want Gabbert ready to play? Hmm…maybe all those reps they gave Garrard in the preseason would have helped.

    And just wait…they’ll eventually start wondering why they’ve suddenly found it hard to sign quality free agents. Classless never pays off in the end.

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