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Jack Del Rio has been wanting to sack Bryon Leftwich for a long time. Even though Leftwich isn't noted for his mobility or his ability to avoid the sack, Leftwich had to be blindsided by the way Del Rio sacked him as the Jaguars starting quarterback.
Following the team's fourth pre-season game, Del Rio named David Garrard as the starter and designated Leftwich for reassignment. If the Jaguars can't work out a trade in the next few days, Leftwich will be released, according to Del Rio. No one around the NFL is surprised Del Rio would make this move. Del Rio didn't get along with Leftwich and vice versa.
The stunner is the timing. How do you go through a training camp and four pre-season games preparing one quarterback and then making a switch at the end? Unless he was handcuffed by ownership or management, Del Rio should have given Garrard the job from the start of the season. Del Rio yanked the starting job from Leftwich last year using Leftwich's chronic ankle problems as the reason.
Leftwich had his surgery and found out his ankle hadn't been right since his final year at Marshall. Though he felt better, Leftwich had mobility issues that scarred Jaguars coaches. Face it, Leftwich isn't mobile. He's never going to be. In many ways, he's like Drew Bledsoe, a quarterback who took a lot of sacks. Unlike Bledsoe, Leftwich suffered injuries that cost him games and starts.
With Leftwich gone, Del Rio's fate as the Jaguars coach is in Garrard's hand. Most scouts considered Garrard one of the league's best backups. But the book on backups is they are good enough to win a team three games, but you start him six, they can lose a team three games. Last year, the Jaguars were 5-5 with Garrard as the starter.
If that record happens again, Del Rio may be looking for a job next season. A .500 record will probably lead to a coaching change. With a good running game and some top defensive personal, the Jaguars should challenge the Colts for the AFC South.
But how much of a talent gap have they created in the division. Peyton Manning is perhaps the game's best quarterback. Vince Young was Rookie of the Year and should be one of the AFC's elite. The Texans staked their future on Matt Schaub.
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-- John Clayton, senior NFL writer