BEST OF THE BEST: JAGUARS' QUARTERBACKS
As sports continue to make a comeback, and Rob Manfred does his best to ruin Major League Baseball, football is still a good ways out. Thankfully, the greatest sport on Earth has more time to figure out how to navigate this global anomaly and hopefully return to the field on schedule. We are 88 days out from Jaguars football, and with OTA's, mini-camps, and other offseason happenings that usually build hype altered, we have to look elsewhere for our football fix. There are no public practices and workouts we typically see, so I decided to look into the franchise's past, and reminisce on some of the good ole' days. I will be breaking down the best of the best for every Jaguars position group over the next few weeks. First up: the quarterbacks.
This position has been one the Jaguars have struggled with for the team's entire history. There has been some success, but there has been much more failure. There have been 19 different quarterbacks who have seen the field for the Jaguars, and each has started at least one game. Their overall record stands at 176-224, with only three who have started more than ten games in their career holding a winning record. Without further adieu, here are the best of the best of the Jaguars' quarterbacks.
1. This one is a no brainer. Mark Brunell is by far the greatest quarterback in Jaguars' history. The lefty was drafted out of Washington in the 5th round of the 1993 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Brunell's dual-threat nature was noted for the fall in the draft. After not wanting to spend more time as a backup, the Jaguars executed their first trade in franchise history, sending two draft picks to the Packers in exchange for the quarterback. Brunell found abundant success in his first four years with the team, making them the most successful expansion team in NFL history at the time, and arguably to this day. He led the team to four consecutive playoff appearances and two AFC title games. Brunell was benched in 2003 for the expected future of the franchise, Byron Leftwich, and never saw the field for Jaguars again. He was traded to the Redskins prior to the 2004 NFL season. He left Duval as the leader in all statistical passing categories and was inducted into the Jaguars Ring of Honor in 2013.
2. Next up on the list is the next winningest quarterback in franchise history: David Garrard. After an exceptional career at East Carolina University, Garrard was drafted by the Jaguars in the 4th round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He was intended to be the original successor to Mark Brunell, but the team saw extensive changes with the firing of head coach and de facto general manager Tom Coughlin. The new regime drafted Byron Leftwich 7th overall the following year. Garrard saw playing time through his first five years due to Leftwich's struggles to stay healthy combined with poor play. Garrard led the Jaguars to their lone postseason appearance with him under center in 2007, the year in which the Jaguars took down the Steelers in the regular season, and in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. He was released a week prior to the 2011 season, left holding a record of 39-37, and throwing for over 16,000 yards.
3. Coming in at number three, is none other than the infamous Blake Bortles. I know some may not like this selection, and Byron Leftwich was a close second for the final spot, but amidst all of the losing, I think Bortles was a more physically gifted passer and could make things happen with his legs. Both quarterbacks took the team to only one playoff appearance, and with Bortles under center (backed by the best defensive in the league) the team made their first AFC Championship appearance since 1999. Bortles did not find much team success in his years in Jacksonville, but he didn't have much help. Both quarterbacks were statistically just about even when it comes to TD-Int ratio, but Bortles had a higher YPG value. You're picking between two extremely underachieving busts... don't hate me for this.
Honorable mentions for this list: Byron Leftwich, because he had some success; Todd Bouman, for being able to quite literally get off of his tractor and be suited up for the next game; Quinn Gray, for being one of my favorite Jaguars of all time; and Gardner Minshew, for the sheer fact that he may one day be the best quarterback in Jaguars' history. The only thing you can have when you're at the bottom is optimism. This will be a fun trip down memory lane. Next up: Running backs.
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