The Jaguars signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract and drafted Jawaan Taylor to protect him. But is that enough?
Defense wins championships, or so the mantra goes. It nearly worked for the 2017 iteration of the Jacksonville Jaguars. They went 10-6, won the AFC South, and came up just short of a Super Bowl appearance, losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
The rest of the teams in the AFC South are making savvy moves to improve their teams this offseason. Are the Jaguars giving enough resources to their offseason to contend in the division this season?
The Jaguars boasted one of the top defenses in the league the last two seasons, but their offense has been lagging behind. Jacksonville boasts playmakers at all levels of their defense; Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Calais Campbell just to name a few. The defense earned them a birth in the AFC Championship but without a serious reboot on offense, their future looks bleak.
In 2018 the Jaguars handed out a three-year, $54 million contract to quarterback Blake Bortles, a move that was questioned throughout the year. Their offense sputtered all season while their defense remained one of the top units in the NFL, leading to a disappointing 5-11 record and last place in the AFC South. Having moved on from Bortles, the Jaguars signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract, hoping he’s the answer.
Following the addition of Foles, many analysts and fans thought they would seek to bolster their line in an effort to protect him, and focus on providing weapons down the field for him. But with their first selection in the draft, they went with Josh Allen, an outside linebacker from Kentucky who is a tremendous force on the edge but not an immediate need for the team. They were lucky that one of the top tackles, Jawaan Taylor fell to them in the second round. Taylor should help protect Foles starting Week 1 and give a boost to the line.
Outside of Foles, Taylor, and a few free-agent signings; specifically Cedric Ocgbuehi and Chris Conley, there were few changes to the offense leading up to 2019. They ignored the wideout position in the draft indicating that they have faith their young receivers will begin to figure it out this season. The Jaguars supposedly have their quarterback of the future but he will need some consistent play from Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark, among others, to step up this season to see any notable change in their offense.
Jaguars fans should be critical of the team’s offseason decisions. It is hard to see Foles replicating the success he had in Philadelphia without some key changes to the structure of their offense. While Foles miracle was incredible, it was largely in part due to the Eagles outstanding offensive line, brilliant coaching, and having the opportunity to throw the ball to a talented receiving corps.
The Jaguars also face some difficult decisions regarding the running back position this season as well. Leonard Fournette, the fourth pick in the 2017 draft, has struggled to live up to expectations thus far in his career and he is now facing charges in the State of Florida. Fournette and the Jaguars also appear to be at odds with one another. The Jaguars are also without their backups T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde.
The Jaguars cannot seem to find a reliable playmaker at the position despite spending significant draft capital over the last few seasons at the position. The Jaguars are heading into the 2019 season without a clear sense of what the running back position will look like if Fournette cannot find a way to succeed in Jacksonville.
Altogether, the Jaguars need to figure out a way to succeed on offense this season if they hope to regain the success they saw in 2017. They lack a true number one wideout, their supposed star running back is facing a myriad of controversies, and their offensive line is manageable but not great. While Foles should be an upgrade over Bortles, will it be enough for the Jaguars to sneak into the playoffs this season?