Perception is reality and sometimes perception is deceiving. Let's use David Garrard as an example.
The general perception of Garrard at the end of last season was that he was a mistake-prone quarterback whose superior mobility couldn't make up for his lack of skill at passing the ball and reading defenses. The sum of that perception was that Garrard would forever be a backup quarterback.
Hmmm. Would all of those people who embraced that perception and are courageous enough to admit it please stand up and accept a pie in the face?
Hey, you didn't look hard enough at the information available to you. You got so caught up in your prejudices that you didn't give Garrard an honest and objective evaluation. Simply put, you ignored the facts.
You want the facts? Here are the facts:
• In Garrard's last 18 starts, if you take out the Houston game on Nov. 12 of last year when he suffered four interceptions – two of them were the result of Matt Jones putting the ball in the Texans' hands – Garrard has completed 284 of 451 passes for 3,371 yards, 18 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 93.4 passer rating. He had a 100-plus rating in nine of those 18 starts and threw an interception in only four of those games.
I'm including the Tennessee game from week 15 in those 18 starts. You know the game. The one in which Garrard's body was invaded by demons during the night and the result was a nightmarish performance that included three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Folks, take out both the Houston and Tennessee games and look at what you got. Take out those games and we're talking about a guy with a 17-3 touchdown to interception ratio, and that's the stuff of which big-time quarterbacks are made.
Why take those games out? Because all quarterbacks are going to have bad games, especially quarterbacks who are in their first true role as a starter. As I've written previously, Tom Brady has thrown four interceptions in a game five times in his career. Yeah, even Brady can have a bad game. Hey, look at Tony Romo, and his team is undefeated.
The intensity of the Byron Leftwich vs. Garrard debate caused an oversight. Garrard's stunning stats were overlooked. They were right in front of us, but we chose to ignore them. The guy was lighting it up, but we elected to judge him on his two worst games, one of which wasn't even his fault.
Thanks to coach Jack Del Rio's ability to evaluate talent and his courage in committing to his evaluation of Garrard, this gross misperception of Garrard has been defeated. He is the Jaguars' starting quarterback and his fast start to this season has given indication that the Jaguars have a quarterback who can take them back to the playoffs.
That's not a prediction, just an opinion based on this reporter's perception of what he's seen so far this season. Opinions, of course, change. For Garrard to maintain the current perception, he must continue to play at a high level.
There are no guarantees. Maybe he is the real thing, maybe he isn't. What I do know for sure, however, is that Garrard has been playing at his current high level a lot longer than his critics would admit.