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Jags focused on Titans


It's only fitting the team that caused David Garrard to lose his job is the opponent the week Garrard is reclaiming his job.

What a drama this Sunday's season-opener against the Tennessee Titans will be for Garrard and the Jaguars. The last time these two teams met was in week 15 of last season, when the Jaguars were 8-5 and headed for the playoffs and Garrard appeared to be settling into the starting quarterback job for the long-term future. Then, as quickly as it took the Titans to return three turnovers for touchdowns, the Jaguars and Garrard went into tailspins.

Garrard's tailspin was reversed a few days ago, when he was named the team's starting quarterback and Byron Leftwich was released. This Sunday, Garrard will have a chance to punctuate his reinstatement by scoring a victory over the Titans in a game that may be as meaningful as any opener in the league.

"It's always how you finish," Garrard told reporters on Monday. "With them (Titans), it's a bad taste."

The question on every reporter's lips in the Jaguars locker room on Monday was: Can the team recover from the startling news of Leftwich's release, buy into Garrard and focus all of its attention on the Titans? In every case, the answer was yes.

"It's already been bought into. He's the starting quarterback. We support him 100 percent. We know the business," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "We have to come out strong. We're at home. We need a win."

This is an opener with true division-title and, therefore, down-the-road postseason implications. If the Jaguars want to supplant the Colts at the top of the AFC South, they'll have to first move past the Titans.

"It's just like losing a game. We have a 24-hour rule," Ernest Wilford said of digesting the news of Leftwich's departure. "Jack (Del Rio) made a decision and we support his decision. David is our quarterback. Let's rock and roll."

Asked if he believes Garrard gives the Jaguars a better chance of winning, Wilford said: "I think so, but every quarterback is different. He just brings something different to the table. Do I have a preference? Whoever's going to help us win games; that's my preference."

Fred Taylor said he was shocked by the news. "A lot of times you can see it coming, but not this one. Thankfully, we had these last two days off," Taylor said.

"We played with David, we support David and we have plenty of time. It's not like the game is in two days," Taylor said. "If you ask my opinion, I think for Byron it was an uphill climb from day one. A lot of people around here never got over Brunell. If fans are going to be our friends, they should side with us, but it was never like that for Byron."

The Jaguars are likely to be a run-conscious team with Garrard at quarterback, as they were with him in the second half of last season. Taylor, of course, is only 487 yards shy of 10,000 career rushing yards. He would seem to be a beneficiary of the switch at quarterback.

In 10 games with Garrard at quarterback last season, Taylor had three of his four 100-yard rushing games. Taylor averaged 5.7 yards per carry with Garrard at quarterback, as compared to 4.2 yards per carry with Leftwich at quarterback. Maurice Jones-Drew had four of his top five rushing games of the season with Garrard at quarterback and scored 10 of his 13 rushing touchdowns during that time.

"It would be stupid of anyone not to support him," Taylor said of Garrard. "Initially, I didn't like it," he added of Leftwich's release, "but it's part of the game."

"Jack has chosen me to be the starter," Garrard said. "I hated the way it happened, but I'm definitely happy it happened for myself. I (text-messaged) him and he (text-messaged) me back 'good luck.'"

Del Rio met with reporters on Monday and discussed a variety of subjects, including the addition of veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn.

"We have him for one year. We're not looking at him as a four or five-year guy," Del Rio said.

Glenn said he was attracted to the Jaguars because of the quality of the team's defense and because of his knowledge of coaches such as Del Rio, Dave Campo and Ray Hamilton.

"The defense and the coaching staff; it was a no-brainer," Glenn said.

At 35, Glenn is certainly past his prime, but "I never look at age. I look at the competitive spirit of guys. I do what it takes to keep myself in shape," he said.

Glenn also sparked interest from the Cardinals, Rams, Jets, Bucs and Lions. The addition of Glenn bolsters the Jaguars at safety because it would allow Brian Williams to move there in the case of an emergency.

Del Rio was upbeat in his press conference, his focus clearly on Sunday's game against Tennessee.

"Ready to go; excited about the work we've put in and the roster we've assembled. Every year you have a fresh start and a new opportunity. I feel like we have a good football team and I feel like we have a chance to earn our way to those things," Del Rio said when asked if he feels as though his team is a division title and Super Bowl contender. "You can't talk your way there."

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