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 coach Marrone acknowledged Wednesday he’s in jeopardy
As the Jaguars 2019 season has spiraled downward, their head coach acknowledged Wednesday that there are likely changes coming in North Florida.
Head Coach Doug Marrone meets the media prior to today's practice. https://t.co/Ks19PcB0te
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) December 11, 2019
“We’re all fighting for our jobs. When you look at it from that standpoint, each person has to make their own decision on how they handle those things….It’s a constant microscope in this league, but I think it gets magnified when you are not winning football games,” Marrone said plainly.
It’s no secret that the Jaguars are plummeting. Sunday they were embarrassed again at home, this time by the L.A. Chargers 45 – 10. That was the fifth consecutive decisive loss (by at least 17 points) for a team that was once 4 – 4 and in the conversation are the AFC Wildcard picture.
Yes, there are injuries including the team losing defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and recently linebacker Myles Jack to season-ending IR. The same on offense where WR Marqise Lee never got healthy and made contributions this year. He, too is back on injured reserve.
Further, the team also had to deal with the constant off field distraction and then decided to trade away arguably their best player, defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the LA Rams. Granted, Ramsey wanted out and was trying not to play while the trade was being consummated. Still, this missed him on the field and it was an issue.
Then, there’s the mess on offense, where the Jags offensive line is in shambles and Marrone had to bench high-priced free agent quarterback Nick Foles before last week’s game. That’s because of his ineffective play and lack of mobility to play behind their poor line.
Rookie Gardner Minshew, who had won four games earlier this year, didn’t do much with only 162 yards in the air and a late third-quarter touchdown that only cut the lead to 31 – 10 in the loss Sunday.
Further, running back Leonard Fournette has now been neutralized by the lack of good line play and the inability to get the passing game going. Fournette went from having a good start to the season that included three 100-yard or more games out of four in late September and October, to having five of his last six games where he has run for 50 yards or less.
So, everywhere you look, the Jags are struggling and losing, and owner Shad Khan is expected to make wholesale changes at the end of the year.
But for now, Jacksonville must go out to Oakland this week and try not to be further embarrassed there.
Jaguars injury woes continue- LB Myles Jack to IR
The bad news on the injury front for the Jaguars continued on Thursday, when they placed star linebacker Myles Jack on injured reserve.
Source: #Jaguars LB Myles Jack (knee) is going on Injured Reserve today. A hit to the Jacksonville defense.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Jack missed Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with a knee injury that was believed to be a sprain suffered in the loss to the Colts two weeks ago. However, the move to IR indicates it may be more serious.
The Jaguars season has unraveled over the course of the last month with injuries to their defense and the team trading away perennial Pro Bowl defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Rams. Jacksonville had already put DT Marcel Dareus on IR, All-Pro defensive tackle Calais Campbell has been trying to battle through a bad back and DB Tony Harrison has still not been cleared with a concussion.
Coach Doug Marrone has expressed the last two weeks that it has been a struggle for his defense with all of the injuries mounting late in the year.
As for Jack, he had settled in the middle linebacker roll after Telvin Smith abruptly retired in May.
Jack has been solid, but not spectacular, in the middle of the defense registering 7 or more tackles in five games this season. However he hasn’t forced a fumble, has only one interception and half of a sack. Jack also has just three tackles-for-loss at a position that often dictates much more output than that.
The former second-round pick out of UCLA had question marks about his knee coming out of college, when the Jaguars took him in the 2016 draft. However, he has answered critics on his durability by being active for all 59 games of his career up until last week.
Jacksonville will use veteran Donald Payne at middle linebacker for now. Payne played significantly last week against the Buccaneers and has been on and off of Jacksonville roster this season.