The Beer Truck

by Billy Weaver

Good things happen to good people and there's a prime example of that in Jacksonville, Florida. Former East Carolina quarterback David Garrard, who was yesterday's guest on "Live @ Five with Troy D and Ellerbe", has more than made a name for himself in the NFL over the past few weeks. Since taking over the reigns of the Jacksonville Jaguars from injured starter Byron Leftwich, Garrard has led the team to two wins in three games as a starter. Although he was unable to pull the upset win over then undefeated Indianapolis, his 250- yard passing performance against the Colts was more than acceptable and it proved that the relatively unknown quarterback from ECU could hang with the big dogs.

With two games left on the schedule Garrard is poised to vault the Jags into the playoffs for the first time in five years. The Jags will travel to Houston this weekend and then host Tennessee in the regular season finale. Those two teams have a combined record of 6-22 so barring a complete meltdown, Garrard will head into the post season with a 5-1 record as a starter.

That's a good news - bad news scenario for Jags head coach Jack Del Rio. There's a good possibility that Byron Leftwich could return from a broken ankle sometime during Jacksonville's post season run which puts Del Rio in quite a pickle. But if Del Rio holds true to form you can expect to see Leftwich back at the helm of the Jags for the stretch run. That would also be about the time the stink would hit the fan in Jacksonville.

Long before Leftwich injured his ankle, Jags fans have been screaming for a change at quarterback. For whatever reason Leftwich has never really been embraced by the fans in Jacksonville since being drafted in the first round in 2003. Regardless of how the rest of this season turns out for Garrard, his future is very bright. Every sports anchor and analyst on the national level knows exactly who he is and what he is capable of doing. Garrard's great size, arm strength, mobility and winning attitude makes him the talk of the NFL. He was even dubbed ESPN's "sleeper pick" at quarterback position during the networks weekly fantasy football show.

Looking ahead to next season, I don't see Garrard being in a Jags uniform despite his multi-year contract and $2 million signing bonus during the off season. Garrard was put on the trade blocks last season and despite mild interest by a few teams the Jags couldn't get what only they knew at the time was a fair deal. Now that every general manger and head coach in the NFL has gotten a first hand look at just how valuable Garrard is, expect the dealing to begin as soon the season ends.
There are a number of teams that would love to have the man former ECU head coach Steve Logan labeled "The Beer Truck." A nickname that is also catching on in Jacksonville. Sage Rosenfels and Gus Frerotte aren't getting it done in Miami. Oakland's Kerry Collins, New Orleans' Aaron Brooks and Cleveland's Trent Dilfer are also at or near the bottom of the NFL quarterback ratings and after Monday's 48-3 loss to Baltimore, Brett Favre may be closer to retirement than people think.

The bottom line is that David Garrard is now in control of his own destiny and I wish him all the best in the future. He's one of the good guys.
Billy Weaver