Tonight in Baltimore, the Jaguars hope to open a new chapter on what their passing offense can become, as Super Bowl winning quarterback Nick Foles, albeit in preseason, makes his debut.
There has been anticipation about Foles taking over ever, since the Jaguars paid him a franchise-record of $50 million guaranteed to sign as a free agent this past March.
After years of languishing with underachieving former first-round pick Blake Bortles at quarterback, Jacksonville desperately hopes that Foles can energize their vertical past game, in specific.
We have already written earlier this week about the weapons that Foles will be looking to early on in the year ,including recent draft picks D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook. Factor in that Jacksonville hopes to have speedy Marqise Lee back at full speed by the beginning of the regular season and there’s obviously a reason for optimism for Jaguars fans about the pass game.
There is no denying that Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl two years ago, but that is also tempered with the fact that he took the team over at the end of the season, when Carson Wentz suffered an ACL injury. Foles likewise replaced Wentz late last year and led Philly to another playoff win at Chicago in January.
But, this is a new situation in Jacksonville, however, Jags coach Doug Marrone hired Foles’ former QB coach in Philadelphia, John DeFilippo, as his offensive coordinator. So, there will be a familiar voice talking in full his headset starting tonight and throughout this season.
And while Foles is not expected to play very much against the Ravens this evening, but we may see flashes of what Jacksonville was so enticed by from what he did with the Eagles especially in their postseasons.
One thing is for certain: Jacksonville’s philosophy will no longer be that they must simply pound the ball with Leonard Fournette and hope to occasionally complete a pass to help them.
In fact, it will likely be the opposite: Foles, his throwing and pressing the defense should be able to help Fournette have a better year.
We begin to find all of that out tonight.
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.