The Jaguars Problem is NOT the QB
By Jesse Overby
Even with all the discussion of a change at quarterback for the Jaguars, is the offensive line is to blame the ineffective play last season?
Not even the best quarterbacks in the NFL can be successful when their offense isn’t at full strength. Aaron Rodgers had six wins, Matt Ryan had seven, Carson Wentz had four, Matthew Stafford had six. Jaguars fans were clamoring for Eli Manning, five wins; Matt Cassel, six wins; Kirk Cousins, eight wins.
Blake Bortles has had a healthy, effective offensive line for only one year, 2017, and they ranked 15th in the league, their highest ranking in his career. With just an average offensive line he was among the best quarterbacks in the NFL, with a four-game stretch in December when he was THE BEST in the NFL.
With a healthy offensive line that is providing protection in the pass game and opening holes in the run game, Bortles can lead this team into and through the playoffs as he did in 2017. Had the decision makers improved the offensive line and given the offense better weapons in the passing game by drafting a combination of offensive lineman and tight end early in the 2018 NFL draft, it’s possible that this team would have won the division again.
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With a healthy offensive line, this team wins at least six more games and possibly more.
There have been articles and blogs reporting that the Jaguars are planning to move on from Bortles and might address the quarterback position after this season. If you do a little research into potential NFL free agent quarterbacks, you won’t see Rodgers, Ryan, Cam Newton, or any signal caller that might be considered a significant upgrade that will be a free agent.
Had any of the top passers in the NFL been on the Jaguars this year, with a decimated offensive line and weapons that rank in the lower half at every skill position, the team would not have fared marginally better.
Consider this: the Jaguars’ top receiver the last two years, Allen Robinson in 2017 and Marquis Lee in 2018, are not considered true number one receivers. That means, at best, the Jaguars have had number two receivers leading their corps. Now, consider the fact that when Robinson was injured in the first game of the 2017 regular season and Lee was injured in the 2018 pre-season, that left the Jaguars with, at best, number three receiver talent on the team.
In 2017, with an average offensive line and number three receiving talent, Bortles was among the best quarterbacks in the NFL. How good would he be with a top offensive line, at least one top-rated wide receiver, and an upgrade at tight end?
The top choice of free agent quarterbacks this year is Nick Foles. Had he not been traded to Denver, it would have been Joe Flacco as well. Flacco’s productivity has declined and, at 34, he is not a long term solution. He’s not an upgrade from Bortles, and it’s questionable if he would be a successful bridge if the Jaguars draft a quarterback this year.
Foles has had success the last two years coming in after Wentz was injured, but he wasn’t starting over Wentz so that should be considered. Also, the Eagles have had a top-rated offensive line the last three years and was the top-ranked offensive line when they won the Super Bowl in 2017.
Foles has also had much better weapons to throw to in Alshon Jeffery, Zack Ertz, Nelson Agholor, Dallas Goedert, Golden Tate, and Mike Wallace. All of these players are better than anyone the Jaguars have had at those positions.
Goedert was one of the top tight end prospects in the draft and was available when the Jaguars picked, and they chose to draft a defensive lineman – Taven Bryan – when their line was one of the best units in the NFL. The Jaguars do not have the kind of offense that has helped Foles succeed the last two years, and his previous history doesn’t bode well for him to be successful in Jacksonville.
If the team signs a free agent quarterback for more than Bortles salary or selects one high in next year’s NFL draft, they’ll just be compounding their mistakes from last year’s draft. Get Bortles better weapons, put together a balanced attack, and this team can win.