AFC South: Jarrett Dillard
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|Torry Holt is drawing rave reviews from those in the Jacksonville organization.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Defenses may be able to contain Torry Holt better than they used to.
A 160-character limit on a text message, however, cannot box him in.
"We had a little string a couple weeks ago," Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "He sent me a text and I sent him a text back. [Then] it took seven texts for one response to a question I asked him in response to one of his texts. So, he's into it. Torry is all about ball."
Is Holt poised to be a hero or a savior? Probably not. Does the Jaguars' new veteran receiver bring the team its best receiver resume since Jimmy Smith, and bring the potential for production from the position the team has craved for years? Absolutely.
The seven-time Pro Bowler, who was an instrumental piece of "The Greatest Show on Turf," was let go by the rebuilding Rams. But his 64 catches, 796 yards, 12.4-yard average and three touchdowns last season hardly amounted to a bad stat line -- certainly not in Jacksonville. Jones had 65 catches in a season cut short by a suspension; Holt's numbers would have led the Jags in the other three departments.
|Cary Edmondson/US Presswire|
|In 2008, Torry Holt was held to less than 800 receiving yards for the first time since 1999.|
Here are three assessments from those who are now working with him:
Koetter: "A proven entity and a veteran presence. In everything that I've seen, he's the consummate pro. ... Someone said, and I think they were right, 'This guy's got to be the quietest seven-time Pro Bowler that's ever existed.' Just look at the numbers. I think it's eight years over 80 catches and 1,000 yards. We haven't had a guy like that, and that's no knock on anybody, that's just fact. ... We have young guys who can soak up his experience. When you just watch Torry as a route-runner, whether the word is crafty or experienced, Torry knows all the little tricks to get himself open and he's got really good hands on top of that."
GM Gene Smith: "He's come in and given us tremendous veteran presence. He's like a player-coach. He's constantly talking to the other players at his position. He has a strong passion for football and so he's probably not the elite guy he once was in terms of earning his opportunity to go to seven Pro Bowls, but he's certainly got the ability to play at a winning level. We felt like adding him to our group not just as a player but as a person, he'd certainly be an asset. So far, so good."
Quarterback David Garrard: "Just his mind is amazing. Listening to a guy that's been around and been doing the right thing for a long time is a breath of fresh air, really."
And one thought from an outsider whose team will play Holt twice:
Colts president Bill Polian: "I think he's got some good football left and he's a very reliable target for David Garrard. That's a good thing. It helps Garrard."
|Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images|
|Quarterback David Garrard slimmed down for this season and the Jaguars hope the rest of the offense sees similar improvements.|
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Having lost 15-20 pounds, David Garrard gets a constant reminder that his diet worked.
"Button downs, suits, jeans, everything is too big," he said Monday after the Jaguars held an OTA practice.
Garrard held nothing back when he talked of the wardrobe alterations he needs.
"Even my drawers, but I'll just buy new ones of those," said Garrard, sporting about 225 pounds on his 6-foot-1-inch frame. "It's time to get more of my stuff done, because I've had very little to wear."
So, about 30 pieces of clothes are in the back of his black Mercedes Benz S Class, ready for a stop at Garrard's tailor.
Jacksonville's general manager Gene Smith and coach Jack Del Rio have been doing some tailoring of their own: Their major offseason moves have been intended to reshape the roster and place Garrard in more optimal situations.
Gone are receivers Jerry Porter, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones and left tackle Khalif Barnes.
Three new tackles -- veteran Tra Thomas and draft picks Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton -- are here to help protect Garrard and make the running game more effective. Four new receivers -- veteran Torry Holt and draft picks Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard and Tiquan Underwood -- were brought into to improve the arsenal.
Since he was elevated to be the team's starting quarterback just before the 2007 season, Garrard's been good (102.2 passer rating in 2007 with 15 more touchdowns than picks) and not-so-good (81.7 passer rating in 2008 with two more touchdowns than picks).
The Jaguars endured an injury-plagued 2008 season. They saw their locker room come apart during a 5-11 campaign that started with legitimate Super Bowl hopes. Garrard's third season as the starting quarterback will go a long way to telling his story, he understands.
Is he a quality, dependable NFL quarterback? Or is the eighth-year veteran a question mark?
"People that doubt Dave just have to look at 2007 film," offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "I mean Dave can do it. We've got to help him, we've got to play better around him. He is a good distributor of the ball, he's good at what people want to call being a game-manager. But Dave can win the game for you too. Dave can make all the throws, he's mobile, he can beat you running. We've got to give him some help and he's got to do his part, which he will."
Having watched the roster reshaping and gained endurance and a quicker first step with the slim-down, Garrard's in a happy place.
"I feel real good right now," Garrard said. "I feel like I can sleep at night."
His job going forward is a simple one, he said: Limit turnovers while getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers, starting with running back Maurice Jones-Drew and including Holt, those rookie receivers and the holdovers like receiver Mike Walker and tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Critics point to two weaknesses in Garrard's game. He doesn't always seem thorough in scanning the field ticking through progressions and, while he's accurate short and intermediate, his deep stuff hasn't been great.
Koetter said the deep-ball question depends on how you define deep. While Garrard might not be the best throwing the ball over the top, he's excellent in another down-the-field department.
"What we call seam throws, throwing the ball in a seam somewhere in an 18- to 25-yard box where you've got to fit it between the linebackers and a safety or in a hole between the safety and the corner, Dave throws those as good as anybody out there," Koetter said. "Throw-it-on-a-line-posts, drive it in there, he throws great and those are really harder throws. He just hasn't had very many chances to throw the big air-it-out over the top throw. He could do better throwing those, but we haven't given him very many chances."
Garrard said he needs to trust that his guys will go up and make a play for him and not be reluctant to take shots, and promises he will do both with the new crew. He said he feels confident he'll connect or be returning to the huddle after an incompletion, not heading to the sideline after a turnover.