Jacksonville Jaguars: Can Nick Foles help them return to the playoffs?

The Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 2018 season with a 5-11 record and with rumors about Nick Foles signing with the team, help may be on the way. That’s because offense was abysmal behind quarterback Blake Bortles. In 13 games, Bortles threw for 2,718 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In 8 of those games, Bortles failed to reach 200 yards passing. The rushing attack stumbled behind Leonard Fournette’s injuries. These issues resulted in Jacksonville posting one of the five worst-rated offenses in 2018 (Pro Football Focus).

On the other side of the ball, the defense held its own. It was still a strong unit but was not nearly as cohesive as it was in 2017. The offense’s woes forced the defense to remain on the field for the majority of games. Frustration materialized in the locker room when the Jaguars lost 6 straight games in the middle of the season.

After a disappointing 2018 season, the Jaguars have serious roster questions with free agency and the draft on the horizon. Let’s examine what moves the franchise can make to right the ship and make a playoff push in 2019.

Free Agency

First, let’s begin with some good news. The Jaguars do not have that many free agents they need to worry about re-signing this offseason. The biggest names on the list will be deciding what to do with four-year RB T.J. Yeldon. He has been a solid backup during his time with the franchise. With rumors that Jacksonville is trying to trade RB Carlos Hyde, the Jaguars may want to retain Yeldon.

Donte Moncrief and Austin Seferian-Jenkins could also be on the move. Both are young players who have been with multiple teams. With the wide receiver market a little bloated, I expect Jacksonville to re-sign him and give him another shot.

In my opinion, it’s time for a new quarterback. Yes, Blake Bortles is a year removed from a 3-year, $54,000,000 contract which, at the time, was rightfully deserved. But Blake Bortles carries a $21,000,000 cap hit in 2019. Blake Bortles only threw two more touchdowns (13) than interceptions (11) in 2018. The time is now to move on from Blake Bortles. You can only go so far and win so many games with below average quarterback play. A lot of teams are facing this reality this offseason and Jacksonville is one of them.

So what are the Jaguars going to do? It sounds like they are going to take a shot at Nick Foles. Last week the Philadelphia Eagles announced they would not be placing the franchise tag on Super Bowl LII MVP QB Nick Foles. It has been rumored Foles will sign with the Jaguars to become the franchise’s newest starting QB. Foles should help them win a few more games, but there are other positions the Jaguars need to address in order to fully solidify their team.

2019 NFL Draft

1st Round: 7th pick (7th overall)

2nd Round: 6th pick (38th overall)

3rd Round: 5th pick (69th overall), Compensatory pick via the Los Angeles Rams (99th overall)

4th Round: 7th pick (110th overall)

6th Round: 5th pick (179th overall)

7th Round: 22nd pick via the Baltimore Ravens (238th overall)

Jacksonville has plenty of draft capital to invest in some high-quality players at wide receiver, pass rusher, and tight end. Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen sacked the quarterback 14 times last season and totaled 18.5 tackles for loss. He has a quick first step and is a tenacious rusher.

In the second round, Jacksonville should look to boost their offensive line. With an early 2nd round pick, the Jaguars should be able to grab one of the talented tight ends or guards. Noah Fant from Iowa or a guy like Chris Lindstrom out of Boston College are two talented prospects. The Jaguars need help in both pass and run-protection and a lineman as nimble as Lindstrom will be able to help boost both units.

Wide Receiver

By this point, you’ve heard plenty about D.K. Metcalf from Ole Miss, this year’s combine winner. He is definitely an option in the first round. As is N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State, who posted 22 receiving touchdowns and back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. However, a truly talented wide receiver going under the radar is Kelvin Harmon from NC State.

Coming off of his second 1,000-yard season for the Wolfpack, Harmon has marvelous footwork he uses to set up and fake out defensive backs. He completes the contested catches, runs hard after the catch and strives for extra yards. He’s a quality receiver for Jacksonville to invest in to help their QB in 2019.

Jacksonville’s defense is still a top-notch unit that can be enhanced with ready to play athletes available in this years NFL Draft. With the signing of former Eagles QB Nick Foles and some investment in the offensive line, the Jaguars will surge back in the upper-tier of the league.

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