The Jaguars are going to spend much of the offseason evaluating the quarterback crop; their quarterbacks, other teams' quarterbacks and quarterbacks who might be available in the draft.
This is going to be the most critical personnel evaluation in team history, because it's probably going to determine whether this team can rise to the ranks of Super Bowl contender, or waste what is one of the best, young rosters in the league.
The Jaguars need a quarterback. They need someone to take that position and call it their own. They need a quarterback in whom this team may develop the confidence all championship teams must have in their "Man." Though he will be expected to be many things, he absolutely must be a guy who plays his best football at crunch-time late in the season.
Why is that so important? Because that's when the Jaguars' failures have occurred in the last three years.
A team takes its lead from its quarterback. They play as he plays, and when he plays his best football late in the season as the games get bigger, the team tends to do the same.
David Garrard might be the guy. I'm not certain he is, but I'm not sure he isn't. Garrard has distinct talent. You'd have trouble finding a guy with a better arm and a more technically sound delivery. Garrard is powerfully mobile and athletic. He runs out of the arms of defensive linemen as though he was Jim Brown. Here's what I like the best about Garrard: The guy doesn't get hurt. He is super durable.
What would it take for Garrard to win the job? He'd have to prove he can play effectively and without committing turnovers.
Maybe Quinn Gray is the guy. He's almost identical to Garrard in size. Gray is also a powerful runner. He has a top arm and the coaches love his study habits. Bill Musgrave used to praise Gray's note-taking.
What would it take for Gray to win the job? He'd, too, have to prove he can play effectively and without committing turnovers. Gray has shown a penchant in practice for forcing passes into coverage. He'll throw interceptions and should've been intercepted twice in the second half of this past Sunday's game.
Some believe Bryon Leftwich's career as the Jaguars' starting quarterback can still be salvaged. I tend not to believe that. I don't think Leftwich believes that can happen.
I think it's likely the Jaguars will sign a quarterback in free agency or trade for one, or maybe both. I think it's likely the team might also draft one.
All of these things are likely because finding the right guy to lead this team is critical to whatever chance the Jaguars have of becoming a Super Bowl contender. Nothing and no one should be discounted.
Two traits, however, would top my list of necessary skills.
- He has to be someone the Jaguars believe can rally the team to a game-winning score inside the two-minute warning.
- And he has to be someone the Jaguars believe will play his best football at crunch time late in the season.
That's what championship quarterbacks do. They rally their teams to victory and they do it at crunch-time.