There was definitely a “two-track story” on Thursday, as the Jaguars introduced their new quarterback Nick Foles. However, at the same time also tried to defend having given Blake Bortles an extension last year only to have it all unravel with his release.
First, on track one, Foles was all smiles with VP of football, Tom Coughlin and Coach Doug Marrone, as they met with the media after agreeing on a four-year massive contract on Wednesday.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 14, 2019
Clearly, the Jaguars believe that got someone that can ignite their offense and make them back into a playoff team which they were in 2017. And, Coughlin in particular, wanted to make sure that Jaguars fans understood why it was Foles, specifically, being brought in to run their offense:
Tom Coughlin: “This signing today signals change and a new start for the Jacksonville Jaguars. … Nick is the right person, the right quarterback for our team.” #Jaguars
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) March 14, 2019
And some specifics were revealed on Foles contract Thursday afternoon to. We now know that the former Eagles backup got $25 million to sign with a fully guaranteed additioanl $15 million salary for 2020, too. And that’s definitely a commitment.
Then, there was the other track on Thursday and you could say it was “back – tracking.” More or less, it was Coughlin and the Jaguars trying to distance themselves from having given Bortles a huge raise and extension last February after their playoff run.
Jacksonville had believed then in their former number one pick and set his contract up, so that it would be “very uncap friendly,” if they had to get rid of him in the first two years.
And low and behold, Bortles unraveled in the middle of the 2018 season, and he had to be benched because of his and the offense’s ineptitude. And the worst news for the Jags cap? He’s going to cost them more than $16 million in dead money, even after being released.
That left Coughlin trying to spin that decision as well, too.
“Why? Because it was the right thing to do. The guy took us to the AFC Championship Game and there wouldn’t have been anybody that would have disputed the fact that he deserved the opportunity. And, we played well behind him and our defense played well. What we did at that point in time was try to again fortify our team around him.”
Still, it was a huge risk with a QB that had been inconsistent at best and it clearly blew it, like many predicted.
So, now we see if Nick Foles can in fact lead the Jaguars the same way that he did the Eagles in the last two postseasons, particularly.
However, it’s not unfair to question that the same regime’ that was touting Bortles 13 months ago, is now touting Foles, as the quick fix savior the Jacksonville needs.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.