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Former Jaguars beat writer offers unique perspective on Nick Foles

Demetrius Harvey

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Jan 13, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) gestures during the first quarter of a NFC Divisional playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently in a tough spot when it comes to the quarterback position, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles seems to be square in the middle of all discussions surrounding it.

The Jaguars can either sign/and or trade for Foles, or they can go a completely different route via the NFL Draft and a stop-gap quarterback via free agency.

Mike Kaye, former beat writer for the Jaguars, and current beat writer for the Philidelphia Eagles at NJ.com can offer a very unique perspective on the situation. Kaye was the Jaguars beat writer for three years until leaving this season to cover the Eagles. For that reason, he can speak on both sides of the equation.

Kaye wrote about the reasons why it may or may not make sense for Foles to go to the Jaguars. Part of why the Jaguars may be interested in Foles, Kaye writes:

“The Jaguars have a defense that is ready to contend in the playoffs but the offense needs a quarterback to help get them there. Foles is clearly a guy with a résumé that would lead one to believe he could assist in those efforts.”

And while this is true, there does seem to be a disconnect amongst fans as well as some in the media on if Foles can bring the same juice to the Jaguars offense as he was able to with the Eagles.

Foles would, as Kaye put it, “be entering a franchise that has never had a superstar quarterback.” The Jaguars have tried and tried again to build their own franchise quarterback – from Byron Leftwich, to David Garrard, to Blaine Gabbert, to most recently Blake Bortles, things have just has not come to fruition. Even Mark Brunell was not touted as a superstar quarterback in his day. Back then, Jaguars were known more for their resilient defense and star power at the running back and offensive line positions.

If the Jaguars were to land Foles, he absolutely would be the most high-profile quarterback they have had in franchise history. All of that is nice, but that simply does not add much in the way of on-field ability and how he could come in and fix a struggling offense.

While Kaye was able to give a few notes on why the Jaguars and Foles marriage makes sense, he also gave the cold, hard truth on why it could be a mistake. Kaye stated in his article a variety of reasons in which I agree with, why the Jaguars/Nick Foles marriage simply does not makes sense.

For starters, in Jacksonville, “he would be faced with playing behind an offensive line that will be in a state of flux. Right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jermey Parnell could be headed elsewhere, while left guard Andrew Norwell, left tackle Cam Robinson and center Brandon Linder are all coming off season-ending injuries.” Kaye writes.

The Jaguars do not have the offensive line the Eagles have. And perhaps their greatest worry regarding their offensive line is that they still have to figure out a way to fix it. Whether it be during the draft or free agency, it will not be fixed in a year. And if the Jaguars take a shot at Foles, they should be expected to go to the playoffs.

Jacksonville doesn’t have the talent on offense currently to help Foles, as a whole. Their number one receiver is Dede Westbrook, and while he is an up-and-coming number one target, he does not offer the dynamic ability as a guy like Zach Ertz does. Foles targeted Ertz a staggering 65 times in seven games last season during the regular season and the playoffs. This connection resulted in 44 receptions for 391 yards and two touchdowns. If they want to have the same results with Foles as the Eagles did, they need to find a consistently dynamic target for him to rely on.

Kaye also spoke about Foles and where he is best used in the passing game: Out of the shotgun. If the Jaguars are going to get yet another shotgun quarterback, they need to figure out how they are going to use RB Leonard Fournette. Fournette has not shown much ability to run out of the shotgun formation. The Jaguars would still be in the same position they were in with Blake Bortles and the running game.

One of the major points offered by Kaye was the Jaguars salary cap situation. Kaye states, “While the team is expected to do some heavy lifting to free up cap space before free agency, the Jaguars are currently $4.3 million over the league’s threshold.” For those expecting more splash signings to go along with Foles, you may want to reconsider. The Jaguars can easily, as Kaye put it, drop “$30 million in salary cap space”, however, most of this would then be used to acquire Foles anyways. It is also worth noting the Jaguars have to do some re-signing of their own with guys like Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, and Myles Jack who are up next contract extensions in the near future.

The Jaguars want to win now, and in the future, and in my opinion they simply cannot win now with Foles behind center if you factor in the offensive weapons, offensive line, and the salary cap space. It just does not make much sense as of right now.

Demetrius Harvey is the lead editor for the Locked on Jaguars website covering breaking news, breakdowns, and more. You can follow him at @Demetrius82 on twitter.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars to open seven training camp practices to fans in 2019

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) signs autographs during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced today they will be opening seven practices during training camp to the public. The first four training camp practices will be open to the public. Practice on Saturday, July 27, is open exclusively to Jags365 Season Ticket Members and is scheduled for 8:45 a.m.

The team’s first practice in full pads will also be open to fans on Sunday, July 28 at 8:45 a.m. All seven of the Jaguars’ Florida Blue open practices are scheduled to take place at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex on the northwest corner of TIAA Bank Field.

2019 JAGUARS OPEN TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

Thursday, July 25 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Friday, July 26 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Saturday, July 27 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. Open exclusively to Jags 365 Season Ticket Members
Sunday, July 28 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Tuesday, July 30 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Wednesday, July 31 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Thursday, August 1 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

Fans are required to register here for each training camp session and tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Gates will open to fans at 8:15 a.m., 30 minutes prior to the start of practice.

Parking is available in Lots M and N, and concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase on-site Limited player autograph availability will occur following each practice.

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53 Man Roster

Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Running Backs

Brandon Carroll

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Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs down the field during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to their quarterback situation, the Jacksonville Jaguars have attempted to answer some questions in terms of the run game in this year’s offseason. Jacksonville went through a full remodel in an attempt to add veteran presence that can sustain the ground attack if injury strikes the team yet again in 2019. 

Two years ago, the Jaguars were a team that led the NFL in rushing at 527 attempts throughout the regular season. Nearly 50 carries ahead of any other team in the league. On those 527 attempted the Jaguars saw heights in production not seen since the Maurice Jones-Drew. 

That production staggered in yardage and overall sustainability of the offense with their lackluster quarterback play last season. This was all due to the injuries of star running back Leonard Fournette and the majority of the offensive line. Without Fournette, the Jaguars only accumulated half the yardage in 2018 Fournette produced in 2017 with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde leading the affair. 

Being a strong part of the offensive system, the Jaguars win total saw a sharp decrease and the team swagger that carried them to the 2017 AFC playoffs had vanished.

Jacksonville looked to replenish their running back room and get back to the strong, effective run game they saw in 2017 that made them so successful. 

Adding Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Thomas Rawls and more through free agency, as well as, drafting former Temple running back, Ryquell Armstead the Jaguars made a good move in adding reliable to back up Fournette in the backfield. 

Projected Running Back Depth Chart:
*italicized indicates starter, underline indicates picked up via draft/free agency
Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Ryquell Armstead.

Leading the pack coming into 2019 is Leonard Fournette. Fournette is a player that has all the major attributes to be a star player in the NFL if he could just stay healthy. Fournette missed eight games last season and seven due to injury which caused the Jaguars offense to stall in his absence. 

He is a player that combines strong downhill running with game-breaking speed. Abilities not many can combine nevertheless replace. He is a generational talent who looks to return to his rookie form in 2019. 

Fournette looks to be getting back on track this season and “refocused on football.” Him being able to stay on the field will be a huge plus for a Jaguars team that has struggled offensively for many years. 

The next two players on the depth chart are veteran backs Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham. 

Blue being a signee from the Houston Texans roster and an experienced back who knows how to get yardage necessary to sustain drives. While receiving very little touches in the Houston offense he played the backup role well and was a reliable source of receiving out of the backfield.

Blue will be used more as a third-down back in the Jaguars offense. 

The same goes for Cunningham. Coming over from the Bears, which last season saw two top-caliber running backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen sharing carries, Cunningham got lost in the shuffle. Cunningham is a great receiving threat out of the backfield and can play solid minutes in his role on his new team. 

Having two players that can play roles, and play them well is vital for any team in the NFL. Taking fatigue and potential injury into account getting Cunningham and Blue was one of the more important moves the Jaguars made this offseason. The Jaguars acquired two reliable backs for new quarterback Nick Foles to work with on downs where Fournette is not in the game. 

Next on the team’s depth chart is the Jaguars 2019 fifth-round pick out of Temple, Ryquell Armstead. In his senior year, Armstead scored 13 touchdowns and averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry. Armstead’s progression through his college career was a sight to see. After starting his career as a bulkier strong runner, Armstead slimmed down to become a more complete back and utilized his opportunity at Temple to make it to the NFL. 

Posting 2,987 yards and 34 touchdowns over his career, Armstead looks to carry on those impressive numbers at the next level. Armstead is a runner with great field vision and patience behind the line of scrimmage. He bursts through the open hole and is willing to lower the shoulder to gain extra yardage. Armstead says that he models his game after former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. 

He describes himself as an angry runner. “I run angry, I run violent. I look for contact— that’s something that makes me unique.” Armstead stated in an interview with CBS sports. 

The type of physical running Armstead brings to the table is something the Jaguars have had success within recent memory. That willingness to create contact and run hard for his team to succeed is an attribute any team would love to have with their running back. 

A player that very strongly resembles Leonard Fournette in terms of running style was a guy the Jaguars looked at as a potential steal in the fifth round. An aggressive, one-cut runner who can run over opponents or bounce it to the outside and take off down the sideline. 

Armstead had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash among eligible running backs at the 2019 NFL combine at 4.49 seconds. Being a player with blazing speed mixed with a downhill running style, Armstead could see minutes directly behind Fournette later in the season. Armstead is an intriguing prospect but his development as a pass-catcher out of the backfield will need to improve for him to solidify the playing time this season. 

While the Jaguars have many running backs on the roster, all of them cannot stay. Unless there is a huge jump of progression when training camp starts later in the month, Thomas Rawls and Taj McGowan have very little shot of making the team. 

After last season, the Jaguars have done whatever it takes to assure they have depth at this position. Being able to provide multiple sources of production is important for any team. By providing this depth, the Jaguars hope it can get the job done and they can return to the success seen in the running game just two seasons ago. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars to sign former WVU WR Marcus Simms

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Marcus Simms (8) runs the football against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made a roster move signing former West Virginia WR Marcus Simms according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Simms was slated to participate in the supplemental draft after filing the paperwork on June 20th.

Simms will make for interesting competition for the Jaguars as we inch closer to training camp. Simms accumulated 87 receptions for 1457 yards and eight touchdowns in his three-year career at West Virginia. Simms has also made his name known in the return game totaling 992 yards as a kick returner. According to reports, Simms ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4-4.49 seconds, with a vertical jump of 36″, a broad jump of 10-2 and three-cone time of 6.91 seconds. After his physical tomorrow, the Jaguars will have to make a corresponding move.

Simms will look to compete for a bottom-of-the-roster position with players such as Terrelle Pryor and Keelan Cole. If the Jaguars intend on retaining six receivers Simms will have a good shot at making the roster. By all accounts, Simms was a draftable player.

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