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Season to remember?


In the same interview room a little more than nine short months ago, Jack Del Rio provided the postmortem to a late-season collapse. He talked of a team that had missed the playoffs and of a quarterback position that was in chaos.

Sunday, Del Rio addressed the media in that same room in the bowels of Arrowhead Stadium, but all was different. Del Rio spoke of a win that staked his team to a 3-1 start. He spoke of one of the most dominant performances in Jaguars history and the same quarterback situation that was a three-man tossup the last time Del Rio entered this room was now firmly in the hands of a guy who is playing the best quarterback the Jaguars franchise has witnessed since Mark Brunell was in his prime … and could run.

You have to go back to last year's 2-0 start, following wins over Dallas and Pittsburgh, that life has been this good for the Jaguars. Then ask yourself: Was it really this good?

The Jaguars have reached this point following two road wins in notoriously difficult places to play, and their quarterback, David Garrard, is on a three-game above-100 passer rating streak. His lowest passer rating of the season is 88.8 in the season opener. That should tell you how well he's playing.

"David Garrard continues to play very, very sharp," Del Rio said.

On last New Year's Eve, in the same stadium, Del Rio benched Garrard in the third quarter following a careless interception. Quinn Gray entered the game, threw for a lot of yards and appeared to push his way into the competition for the starting quarterback job. There was turmoil.

"It was a downer," Garrard remembered. "It was something I was not used to at all. It was tough but everything comes full circle."

Garrard's career came full circle on Sunday in a 17-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. From the depths of his career in the same building on the final day of 2006, Garrard left Kansas City Sunday evening at the height of his football life. He threw for 218 yards, a touchdown and a 109.8 passer rating. He was, in simple terms, superb; perfect for the situation.

A little more than nine months ago, Garrard was being skewered for throwing too many interceptions and for lacking accuracy. That's the crazy part. All of the things they said he couldn't do are the things he's now doing.

Accuracy? The guy threw balls into jail cell-sized windows on Sunday. He hit Dennis Northcutt with a game-clinching 40-yard completion that was made while on a dead run to his right.

Interceptions? He hasn't thrown a one through four games, marking the first time in team history the Jaguars have started the season without throwing at least one interception in the first four games.

"I knew today would be different. This is a season you are going to remember," he said.

His performance against the Chiefs will only push him higher in the league's passer rankings. He led his second 18-play scoring drive in as many games. He was at his best on third down. He spread the ball around to nine receivers.

Hey, remember when they said he stared down Jimmy Smith? Yeah, everything has changed.

Garrard currently has a 105.3 passer rating. He's completed 66.7 percent of his passes and has rushed for 108 yards.

"This season is different. Going though the things I went through last year has prepared me for this moment. I just think I needed those tests; needed those opportunities," Garrard said. "I've got a lot of room to grow. We can go a long way."

As a result of Garrard's growth, the Jaguars have an offense on which it can rely. This team isn't just defense any more. It can move the ball and score points. Even better, it seems to have the ability to do that on demand.

"My goal as a quarterback is always to win ballgames. I could care less about stats. My concern is wins and losses. That's always what quarterbacks are judged on," Garrard said.

He is this team's leader on offense. There is no questioning that. From goat to hero in nine months; amazing.

Can he keep it going? That's the weekly question. If the answer is yes, this will, in fact, be a season to remember.

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