- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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It was a disappointing play that burned a possession, and in discussing it with Jacksonville reporters Tuesday Garrard said he and Thomas got crossed up. Thomas broke off the route flat rather than at the deeper angle Garrard was expecting.
Garrard said the two got off track on the play while the quarterback missed practice and game time with a back issue.
They’ve worked through it after recent practices, and Garrard is hoping the team has a chance to push the ball down field more often this season.
But Jack Del Rio’s quotes on the matter, distributed by the team, make it sound like the coach is frustrated such balls are not materializing more easily.
He deflected a question about that specific play, but talked generally about deep stuff and Garrard. Here is a telling section of Tuesday’s news conference:
Will there be more emphasis on taking more shots down field?
“I’m not one to really spend a lot of time talking game plan specifics but we went into that game Friday night with the idea that we would take some shots down the field. We took a couple early and I’d like us to be more efficient. When you look down the field if it’s not there, drop it down and make a positive play. But we do want to be aggressive. We feel like the team is going to have to load the box to stop our run and when they do that they leave themselves vulnerable for the big plays down the field, and we want to get good at hitting some of those.”
It seems like you didn’t do more of that last year, is there a reason why?
“We continue to call up shots, just either get off them and don’t throw them, or don’t throw them well or don’t connect on them enough. But as we do it’ll become a stronger part of our offense.”
So in the past long passes have been called but nothing materialized?
“Sure, and then the more you’re successful at it, if you dial one up and you take a sack then it doesn’t make you feel real good about calling another one. The play-caller is going to react how the plays are being run, how effective we are at carrying out the assignments and if we’re carrying out the assignments at a high level you’ll see more of it. There are things we’d like to do. There are things that we have in design that we’d like to do and the better we show the ability to execute it the more we’ll be able to stay with it and open things up and do some of the things that we have on the drawing board. But in the end you’ve got to be able to execute and you’ve got to be able to move the ball and score points.”
Even with that, Del Rio once again called Garrard his starter. For there to be a change, Blaine Gabbert will have to unseat him.
At this point it seems we’d need a combination of poor play from Garrard and better-than-solid play from the rookie to make it happen for opening day.
Whenever he gets his chance, the hope is that Gabbert advances from the ineffective execution that limits the play-caller at a faster rate than Garrard has.