Remember when the Jacksonville Jaguars seemed only a reliable quarterback away from being a Super Bowl team? That’s not the problem anymore, with former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles readying for his first season with the team after signing as a free agent in the offseason.
But for the Jaguars, it might not be as simple as plugging Foles into the lineup and returning to top-contender status in the AFC. Foles must demonstrate that he can re-create the magic he summoned in Philadelphia, where he went from being a journeyman to a Super Bowl MVP. And the Jaguars, coming off a disappointing 2018 that followed a trip to the AFC championship game in the 2017 season, must prove they still can put a Super Bowl-worthy team around their prized new quarterback.
“It’s great just being part of a great organization and a team that’s really bonding together,” Foles said following a joint practice with the Baltimore Ravens last week. “I think whenever you get to run an offense that you really enjoy and you have a lot of say in, what quarterback wouldn’t love that? But it’s really just about the people that you get to do it with. This team’s really been bonding every single day. We’re getting closer and closer.”
The Jaguars signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract in March to succeed the oft-maligned Blake Bortles, who threw 75 interceptions in 75 games over his five seasons in Jacksonville. Bortles did manage to help the Jaguars get one agonizingly small step away from the Super Bowl in the 2017 season, with their 24-20 loss at New England in the AFC championship game. But he regressed last season, with 11 interceptions to go with 13 touchdown passes in his 13 games, as the Jaguars went 5-11 and finished last in the AFC South.
Bortles was released, and the Jaguars signed Foles. The idea is that pairing Foles with running back Leonard Fournette and a still-rugged defense will get the Jaguars immediately back into the AFC’s top tier. But defensive end Calais Campbell cautioned that nothing can be taken for granted, not about a defense that was in the league’s top five last season and not about Foles.
“It only matters what we do this year,” Campbell said. “As for Foles, it’s the same thing. His past success doesn’t mean anything for this year. We have to earn this.”
Already, there are complications. Left tackle Cam Robinson and wide receiver Marqise Lee are out with knee injuries and might not be ready for the start of the regular season, although Robinson was removed from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list this week. The Jaguars play in a competitive division that produced two playoff teams last seasons in the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans, and a third, the Tennessee Titans, that finished 9-7.
Coach Doug Marrone said his approach is to keep his players focused on the immediate tasks at hand without fretting about the increased expectations.
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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports