How did the Jaguars fare this offseason?
By David Levin
With all the moves the Jaguars made this offseason, how did they fare, according to ESPN.com?
If you are keeping score at home, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a different look at quarterback and changes on both sides of the football. It’s been an “addition by subtraction” kind of offseason that has many pundits, like myself, thinking change is a good thing in DUUUVAL.
In a recent piece on ESPN.com, beat writers were asked to discuss how their teams fared during the offseason with free agency and the NFL Draft. According to Michael DiRocco, the Jaguars received an “above average” grade, which falls in line with what we here at Black and Teal have been saying. While I am not sure the Jaguars will make the playoffs this season, given the tough AFC South, winning more football games in 2019 should almost be a certainty.
"“The Jaguars had to fix an offense that scored two touchdowns in the final five games of 2018 by upgrading at quarterback,” DiRocco writes.“Nick Foles, who won a Super Bowl MVP with Philadelphia after the 2017 season, was the best free-agent quarterback available. The Jaguars signed him to a four-year deal worth $91 million, with a franchise-record $50.125 million guaranteed. Is he an elite quarterback? No, but he’s a major upgrade over Blake Bortles.”"
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The rise and fall of the Jaguars have been linked to the quarterback position since the departure of David Garrard. It looked to finally fall into place when Bortles led the Jaguars to the AFC Title game in January 2018. Since then, it has been a freefall of moving parts, injuries, lack of consistency and poor game-planning on offense.
Foles looks to be one of the missing links that could help the rise of the Jaguars offense. His presence on the practice field is already paying off with players who have spent time in Jacksonville and the new players brought in to change the chemistry of a battered football franchise.
"“In his 13 starts (including postseason) with the Eagles, Foles completed 67% of his passes with 21 TDs and 11 INTs. No Jaguars starter has completed more than 64.5% of their passes over a season,” DiRocco added."
If Jacksonville can get that kind of production from Foles, or more, with the defense that should be better this coming season, it could mean a return to the playoffs, but more important than that it should mean there is more chemistry on the playing field.
In addition to the celebration of the Foles era in Jacksonville, the offense still has a huge question mark at running back. Not for a lack of talent and not because of depth. The organization and fan base want to know if Leonard Fournette is going to show up and give this team another 1,000-yard season. After a tumultuous 2018, will the former fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft have the best season of his young career?
"“What can the Jaguars expect out of RB Leonard Fournette? Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said Fournette will be “a major reason where our offense goes” in 2019, and executive VP of football ops Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone have been adamant in their belief of a run-first attack,” DiRocco explained.“Marrone said Fournette showed up in great shape to voluntary offseason conditioning at 226 pounds. He has to prove he can stay healthy and that he has matured and committed to becoming a professional.”"
If Fournette, who ran for 1,040 yards as a rookie, can keep his weight down and stay healthy, there is no reason to think he cannot remain the focal point of this offense. The front office spent the offseason bringing in more weapons to help the passing game, added depth in the running back room and shored up the offensive line. Things could get interesting once the regular season begins.