After deciding to part ways with quarterback Blake Bortles at the end of last season, the Jaguars have revamped their quarterback room in terms of talent and new faces. After struggling at the position the last few years, Jacksonville determined it was time to pursue an established veteran quarterback via free agency as well as clear the room for some fresh new talent.
Enter Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, and Alex McGough. Two of which trying to solidify their spot on an NFL roster. The other being a former Super Bowl-winning quarterback from Philadelphia and a sure-fire starter this season, Nick Foles. Foles signed with the Jaguars this summer for 88 million dollars over four years with 50 million dollars guaranteed. A hefty price for a guy who has never played a full season in the NFL over his eight-year career.
Taking a bit of a gamble by paying Foles nearly 22 million dollars per year, Jacksonville will rely heavily upon the quarterback to obtain success and accomplish the goals they set out for this season.
The Jaguars weren’t taking any chances in assuring they get a well-developed quarterback that can take into the future. By signing Foles, the Jaguars nearly relinquished any opportunity at signing another large free-agent talent in the next few years. Causing them to be dependent on the play of their new quarterback.
Projected Quarterback Depth Chart:
*italicized indicates starter, underline indicates picked up via draft/free agency
Nick Foles, Gardener Minshew, Alex McGough
Nick Foles is without a doubt the starting quarterback on this team. After being a prolific acquisition earlier in the offseason, Foles walks into an organization where there’s a lot of hope for the future. After years of miserable performances and lackluster quarterback play, Jaguars fans are excited to see what the new guy in town has for their franchise.
While he has shown that he can get the job done on the biggest stage in football, he has not shown he can lead a team through the entire season. While having played well in his first year as a starter in 2013, Foles battled with injuries but excelled in the thirteen games he played in. Throwing for nearly 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. In the years following, his play regressed as he played just 19 out of 32 games. He saw two consecutive seasons of 10 interceptions and a decrease in completion percentage.
Recently, Foles has taken on the backup role at quarterback and has played well when his numbers been called. Leading Philadelphia to their first-ever Lombardi trophy, Foles threw for over 350 yards and three touchdowns. Including one to Zach Ertz to win the ball game. His knack for playing well in big-time situations was on display once again last season. Foles took the Eagles past the first round of the playoffs after Carson Wentz went down for the second year in a row. Foles is at the top of his game when he is counted out. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and he looks to continue that play in Jacksonville.
Staying healthy will be a huge point going into training camp in late July. Foles tends to sit in the pocket and hold on to the ball warranting bone-crushing hits by some of the leagues best pass rushers. Foles will look to get the ball out of his hands early and often and continue to advance the ball downfield. Working to elevate his game in the sense of limiting the number of shots he takes will be a focal point going into the season for the veteran quarterback.
Being able to transition back into a full-time starter will be huge to see what more he can accomplish in his career. At 30 years of age, Foles is in his prime, but how long he will be in his prime the question. Being able to take a Jaguars team with an outstanding defensive roster over the hump and deep into the playoffs will be his challenge in 2019.
Gardner Minshew has shown his studious nature from his first days in Jacksonville which created a positive outlook on him within the organization.
He was described as a passionate, fiery leader according to the Jaguars scouting report on him. Being exactly the guy you would like on your team.
Offensive Coordinator, John Defilippo said that “He’s a very football-smart guy.” Which is important for any quarterback in learning the playbook and the intricacies within the offensive system.
Minshew was drafted in the 6th round of this year’s draft out of Washington State. The Air Raid offense showcased Minshew’s strengths and even inserted his name into Heisman contention for much of the season. After transferring to WSU, Minshew threw for nearly 4,800 yards, 38 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in his one season under Mike Leach in Wazzu. Minshew showed great poise in the pocket and his accuracy completing 70% of his throws in 2018, while also leading the nation in passing yards, throwing for 397.6 yards per game.
While having the lackluster arm strength and physical attributes compared to some of today’s NFL quarterbacks, Minshew has shown confidence and charisma on and off the field that makes him an intriguing prospect to take over the QB2 role for Jacksonville this season
Minshew’s growth while in Pullman made him an intriguing prospect going into the draft. With the right coaching and development, he could succeed Foles when his time runs up in Jacksonville. The man with the mustache is ready for any challenge that comes his way.
Alex McGough, a second-year player out of Florida International looks to seal a spot on the team after an impressive showing thus far in training camp. While in college, McGough threw for nearly 9,100 yards and 65 touchdowns leading the Panthers all-time in touchdown passes and 2nd all-time in passing yards.
Drafted in the 7th round by the Seattle Seahawks with the 220th pick, McGouch was an addition to the Jaguars unit for the sole purpose of providing a depth to the position. McGough has never played a down in the NFL but shows tremendous ability to be a career backup in the NFL.
Standing at 6’3, 218 pounds, McGough is patient in the pocket and an efficient in his progression. An issue is that he does not have the arm get the ball downfield which limits his potential in the NFL. Developing arm strength is something very hard to acquire and could be the downfall for McGough. Causing him to lose out on the backup position to Gardner Minshew.
With very little experience in his second year, he will continue to develop and learn behind Foles as his career progresses.
The battle for the second-string quarterback is seemingly very close between Minshew and McGough. Whoever can impress the coaches enough during training camp and the preseason will seal that second depth chart spot for September 8th and for the season.
Having them play in real game situations, Jaguars fans will see Minshew separate himself from McGough making him the primary backup in 2019.
The Jaguars have created a whole new look when it comes to quarterbacks. No previous quarterback remains and that means for a breath of fresh air. A clean slate may be exactly what Jacksonville needs to develop a homegrown long-lasting quarterback in the future.
By gaining three quality quarterbacks and human beings all at the same time, this position room could turn out to be a special one in due time for the Jaguars.
Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Running Backs
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.