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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The year before, he played remarkably sharp football and led the Jaguars two rounds deep in the playoffs in 12 starts -- with 18 touchdown passes, just three interceptions and a 102.2 passer rating.
Such a low interception total wasn't something the Jaguars expected Garrard to be able to repeat in 2008, his first season under the new contract.
Then multiple injuries that rendered the offensive line unrecognizable severely dented his protection -- he absorbed 42 sacks in 2008 as compared to 21 the year before -- while players added to bolster the receiving corps -- Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson -- were absolute flops.
Garrard threw 15 TDs, 13 interceptions and saw his passer rating sink almost 21 points to 81.7.
Much was out of his control. But heading into 2009, Garrard's seen the Jaguars spend their top two draft picks on offensive linemen Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, sign veteran receiver Torry Holt and bring in some rookies that project as passing-game playmakers.
As much as anyone in the AFC South, Garrard is on the hot seat. He showed up for the team's offseason conditioning program much trimmer and is upbeat about the team's push to rebound from a 5-11 season.
If he plays well, he provides further evidence that last year's struggles were beyond his control and could key a bounce back for Jacksonville. If he plays poorly, he gives amplitude to the questions about whether the Jaguars were too quick to shell out the big dollars.
The runner-up in the AFC South: Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye.
His play dipped in his second year, with the lingering effects of a high-ankle sprain serving as a big contributing factor. A bounce back can be a real boon to Houston, but if Okoye plays more like he did in 2008 than in 2007, the team's efforts to prompt more production out of the players around Mario Williams will be slowed.