BALTIMORE—He wasn't wearing the hat this time. It just didn't fit the mood.
The hat David Garrard made famous in Pittsburgh a year ago, when everything about the Jaguars was striking and fashionable, was missing from Garrard's postgame press conference on Sunday, following a season-ending 27-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The 11-5 Ravens are headed to the playoffs. The 5-11 Jaguars are headed for an offseason of remodeling.
"It's been a year of missed opportunities. It just seems like it's been all year," Garrard told reporters.
A year after being the toast of the NFL, Garrard stood in front of reporters humbled by a performance that included a meager 127 yards passing, two interceptions and a 49.9 passer rating. He was bested by a powerful Ravens defense and a rookie quarterback who threw for 297 yards and led an offensive assault that hung 431 yards on a defense that once was the Jaguars' calling card.
The 2008 Jaguars are the antithesis of the '07 edition; from 11-5 to 5-11, and Garrard is symbolic of the fall. He is the quarterback of the team that totaled the most dropped passes in the league, and he was also knocked down more than any other quarterback in the league.
"Regardless, when I'm standing upright I have to make the plays," he said.
He made one against the Ravens, beating an all-out blitz with a lovely 23-yard touchdown lob to a wide-open Alvin Pearman circling out of the backfield. With 48 seconds to play in the first quarter, the Jaguars held a 7-3 lead, but it evaporated quickly and the Ravens poured it on.
"I should've made better plays. There are things in the offseason we have to work on," Garrard said. "We have to do a better job of doing the little things; the timing with the receiver. I have to make the throws and the receivers have to make the catches and the line has to block. We have to regroup."
Garrard, along with head coach Jack Del Rio, will take the brunt of the blame for this season's collapse.
"As a coach and quarterback, we understand that you're going to get the criticism when you don't get wins," Del Rio said. Del Rio, however, maintained his support of Garrard.
"I think David's a good quarterback. Obviously, you want to throw touchdowns and not interceptions. I think he battled hard all year. I think there are things he'll do better going forward."
"There are times I can make better decisions. I just didn't do enough. We didn't make enough plays," Garrard said.
The Jaguars' finish will give them the eighth pick of the draft for the second consecutive year, but they won't have to trade up for it this time. That's either the bad news or the good news, depending on your perspective.