Jaguars hope late QB change works against Titans — again

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 6:34pm

The Jacksonville Jaguars figured it was worth a shot. After all, it worked once.

Less than a week before the 2011 season-opener against the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville released veteran quarterback David Garrard and named journeyman Luke McKown the starter.

Garrard had held that spot since 2007, when Jacksonville released returning starter Byron Leftwich following the final preseason contest. That year the Jaguars opened with a 13-10 victory over the Titans at home.

“David had a nice run here,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “We talked about that with him all the time. We were joined at the hip from the time back in [2007] when we made him the starter. … He just wasn’t able to get it going this preseason. … With that being the case, we just had to make a football decision and we decided to let him go.

“I think it’s imperative that we have the courage to do what is best for the football team.”

Jacksonville used its first-round pick in April’s draft on quarterback Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri. The Jaguars took him immediately after Tennessee selected Jake Locker eighth overall.

McKown has been Garrard’s backup for the past two seasons and has attempted just 22 passes in four appearances. In a career now in its eighth year, he also has spent time with Cleveland and Tampa Bay but never has played more than five games or started more than three in a single season.

“[McCown] had the best camp out of our three quarterbacks,” Del Rio said. “He’s earned this opportunity. His teammates have confidence in him, [and] he’s our best option to win Sunday.

“Blaine is a promising young quarterback who has done a nice job in the five weeks he’s been here, but it’s an awful lot to process and really become comfortable with. … We like the both of them. We think [McCown] gives us the best chance to start the year.”

Gabbert got the most work in the preseason. His 70 passes — he completed 35 with one touchdown and one interception — were more than Garrard and McCown combined (54).

McCown had the highest completion percentage of the three at 66.7 (12-for-18) and had two touchdowns with no interceptions. Garrard was 19-38 for 216 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

“We understand the importance of the position and wanted to give David every opportunity to show what we’ve seen before, what made him the starter in the first place,” Del Rio said. “He just couldn’t get it going. We were hoping for some sign of life, for him to pick it up and get it going. … It just became very obvious it wasn’t going to happen.

“Therefore, this became the right decision for us moving forward.”