The Jacksonville Jaguars are still a relatively young NFL franchise, having just joined the league in 1995, but they have proven to be quite successful in their limited history. Half of their seasons in the NFL have ended with an above .500 record which is unusual for expansion teams. Much of this success can be traced to the fact that they exhibited a decent amount of stability in both the starting quarterback position and the head coaching position. In their short history, the Jaguars have only had three primary starting quarterbacks and just two head coaches. Here is a look at the quarterbacks that Jacksonville has had through the years.
The starting quarterback during the first year of the Jacksonville Jaguars existence was former University of Washington player and backup to Brett Favre, Mark Brunell. Brunell proved to be a great find for Jacksonville early on both with his arm as well as with his quite capable running ability. As a matter of fact in the Jaguars first season, Brunell would finish second on the team in rushing yards just 45 yards behind team leader James Stewart. With his four rushing touchdowns that season, he would however lead the team in rushing touchdowns. Amazingly, in only their second year in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars would make it all the way to the AFC Championship Game only to lose and come one game shy of playing in the Super Bowl. Brunell would remain the starting quarterback of the Jaguars through the end of the 1990s, helping the team make the playoffs each year. Some of the backup quarterbacks that would appear on the roster beneath him during this time were Steve Beuerlein, Rob Johnson, Shane Matthews, Jonathan Quinn, Jamie Martin, and Jay Fiedler.
When the new decade started, Mark Brunell remained the starting quarterback. He would continue with the team, with much less success, through the 2003 season before departing to become quarterback of the Washington Redskins. Jamie Martin and Jonathan Quinn remained as Brunell’s backups during the first two seasons of the new millennium, but in 2002 a new young player would see his name listed on the depth chart, David Garrard. In 2003, Brunell would only start three games and the Jaguars would go 0-3 in those contests, the remaining 13 games of the season were started by rookie Byron Leftwich. 2004 would see Leftwich emerge as the full time starting quarterback and would result in limited success. Due to injuries and inconsistent play, Leftwich and Garrard would split time as the starting quarterbacks during the 2005 and 2006 season, but in 2007 Garrard was given the opportunity to be the full time starter and it proved a quite successful move. Soon Leftwich was gone and the backup quarterback position would be filled with the likes of Quinn Gray and Cleo Lemon. David Garrard would remain the starting quarterback for a third consecutive game when the 2008 season rolled around.
The history of the quarterbacks of the Jacksonville Jaguars is not as long and storied as that of many of the NFL franchises that have existed longer, but there is still a story to be told. The Jaguars, though young as a team, have exhibited great maturity in the handling of their quarterbacks. Many teams change quarterbacks year-to-year, and with these actions comes great instability and poor leadership. The Jaguars have not fallen into this trap and nothing in their short history indicates they will anytime soon.