David Garrard will get his sixth consecutive start, his longest streak as a starting quarterback in his five years in the league. With five games remaining in this season, Garrard would seem to be succeeding in his quest to be recognized as a "starting quarterback."
"Like always, I feel I can do better. Those are things that keep me hungry, keep me on edge, keep me prepared. I feel like I am in a good position for myself, but I feel I can do better," Garrard said as the Jaguars began preparations on Wednesday for Sunday's playoff-critical game in Miami.
With Sunday's start, Garrard will draw even with Byron Leftwich. Each quarterback will have started six of the Jaguars' 12 games, and most of their numbers are similar.
Leftwich threw seven touchdown passes and five interceptions in six games; Garrard has thrown five and four in five games. Leftwich has completed 59 percent of his passes for a 6.33 yards-per-attempt average and a 79.0 passer rating. Garrard has completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 6.76 yards per attempt and a 77.5 passer rating.
Garrard is 3-2 in his five starts. Leftwich is 3-3 in six.
The big difference between Leftwich and Garrard, of course, is in rushing. Garrard has run 28 times for 153 yards to Leftwich's 25 times for 41 yards, though two of Leftwich's runs were for touchdowns.
What's left for Garrard to become a big-time passer? The answer might be more playing time.
"I think he's getting more comfortable and he'll continue to progress. I think he's got room to grow," coach Jack Del Rio said. "The passing game is so much about timing. We continue to improve."
In Sunday's heartbreaking loss in Buffalo, Garrard posted an impressive 118.0 passer rating. He threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions. The only thing missing from his statistics was yardage, which was held to 132 by a mere 22 pass attempts.
Garrard has attempted 22, 32, 34, 22 and 17 passes in his five starts. Those attempts totals are symbolic of the kind of ball-control football Del Rio wants to play, but they are also symbolic of a quarterback who is being carefully groomed.
Against the Dolphins on Sunday, Garrard will be facing the league's fifth-ranked defense. The Dolphins are also sixth against the run and seventh against the pass. Clearly, Garrard and the Jaguars offense will be challenged to be something more than "managers" this Sunday.
"They have a great front seven. It puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback and causes a lot of havoc," Garrard said.
It's a must-win game for the Jaguars in their quest to make it into the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
"Let's win a game this week," Del Rio said of his approach to the final five games of the season. "Let's take 'em one game at a time. You can only do that one day at a time, one game at a time."