AFC South: JaMarcus Russell

Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

I’ve talked to people who think David Garrard is the quarterback the Jaguars can build around and win with. I’ve talked to people who don’t believe he is.

Through the offseason and the preseason, I said I thought he deserved this year -- with upgraded protection and better weapons -- to show if he is or he isn’t.

At halfway in…

I still don’t know.

Stats don’t tell the whole story, but they are a fair means for comparison. With an 81.8 passer rating, he’s 22nd of 34 quarterbacks who’ve seen significant playing time.

And here are the guys he rates above: Shaun Hill, Chad Henne, Matt Cassel, Trent Edwards, Marc Bulger, Mark Sanchez, Kerry Collins, Jake Delhomme, Matthew Stafford, Josh Johnson, JaMarcus Russell and Derek Anderson.

A couple of those guys are on their way up (Henne, Sanchez, Stafford), a couple are on their way down (Bulger, Collins, Delhomme) and a couple are just plain bad (Russell, Anderson). But is there anyone on that list you’d want starting for your team right now if you had a broader choice?

Garrard ranks behind Jason Campbell, who’s largely regarded as having a horrible year. But Garrard’s also barely off the pace of Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler, two of the league’s well-regarded young quarterbacks.

He’s 30th in the fourth quarter (66.2 passer rating), 19th on third down (74.5), 14th in passes of 30+ yards (seven) and 12th in pass plays of 20+ yards (23).

That “upgraded” protection is on pace to give up 40 sacks after 42 last year. The upgraded weapons have last year’s 15th rated passing offense at 16th.

All very middling.

Like the Jaguars, I think Garrard’s been inconsistent. He’s on pace for fewer touchdowns than last year, but also fewer picks.

I think he’s led pretty well. I think he’s helped young receivers. I think he’s formed a great connection with Mike Sims-Walker. I think he’s running what’s still going to be a run-driven team. I think the effort is there.

And I think I’m going to need those remaining eight games to make the call as to whether I think he can be the Jaguars' answer going forward or if the next stage of retooling is going to need to include another quarterback.

Rapid Reaction: Raiders 27, Texans 16

December, 21, 2008

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Chronicle columnist Jerome Solomon gets props Sunday.

He wrote Friday that he thought the Texans were overly relaxed and overly confident about their trip to Oakland, primed for a fall. They had a chance to win an eighth game for the second year in a row and set themselves up for their first winning season with a victory in their finale against Chicago. Instead they turned Solomon into a prophet.

Whether over-relaxation and overconfidence were the issues is up for debate -- I did not see much of the game and can't judge it. But the streaking Texans laid a major egg and set up something beside a winning season: A miserable plane flight home and a week of regret.

They allowed Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell to have the best day of his two-year career -- completing 18 of 25 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, with a 128.1 passer rating.

They allowed someone named Chaz Schilens to catch a touchdown pass.

They also made a star out of Johnnie Lee Higgins, who got to dance in the end zone twice -- following a 29-yard touchdown catch and an 80-yard punt return that extended Oakland's lead to 27-13.

From what I saw, the rush was insufficient and the coverage was too loose -- problems the Texans need to address this offseason no matter what record they finish with.