With four members of the Jaguars offense on the injured reserve, as well as running back Leonard Fournette constantly being bothered by a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 1, the Jaguars are going to have to start looking for some other options to help the offensive side of the ball.
After losing wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee ligament damange) in the preseason and left tackle Cam Robinson (torn ACL) in Week 2, things were already looking dreary for the offense in terms of health. Then, running back Corey Grant suffered a lisfranc injury (ankle) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (core muscle) were lost during the Chiefs game this past Sunday. Both will join Lee and Robinson on the IR, with ASJ set to be placed on the short term reserve that will allow him to return to action in at least eight weeks.
Oh, and on top of all this, LT Josh Wells, who has been starting in place of Robinson, is dealing with a groin injury and was labeled as “week-to-week” by head coach Doug Marrone.
That’s four offensive starters, a reserve-turned-starter, and an offensive “weapon” all out for a significant amount of time, if not the season, before Week 6. Not ideal.
Considering the injuries are mounting, the Jaguars will likely be forced to scan the street free agent market and potentially make some trade calls to fill the voids left throughout the offense. Who could the Jaguars take a look at?
RB Orleans Darkwa
The name constantly being floated around, Orleans Darkwa has connections to the Jaguars coaching staff and front office. The former New York Giants committee back played for Jaguars EVP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin when he was the Giants head coach in 2014-15, as well as OL coach Pat Flaherty during the same time frame.
During his four seasons with the Giants, Darkwa tallied 242 carries for 1036 yards and 10 touchdowns, with 26 receptions for 176 yards in the passing game as well. Considering he received no love in free agency this year, he would likely be a cheap signing. The Jaguars worked Darkwa out during the offseason, as well as last week.
RB Mike Gillislee
The former Patriots and Saints RB was just cut this past week when RB Mark Ingram returned from his suspension in New Orleans. A Florida native and a former University of Florida RB, Gillislee has rushed for 1291 yards on 274 carries, recording 16 TDs.
Gillislee has reported interest from his former Patriots team, but if nothing comes of that, Gillislee would be a fine complementary RB to T.J. Yeldon until Fournette returns fully healthy.
OT Will Beatty
While he is getting up there in age (33) and has dealt with numerous injuries during his career, Beatty offers 63 starts of experience and played for Coughlin and Flaherty from 2009-2015. He was most recently rostered by the Eagles in 2017, although he was strictly a reserve and didn’t play a snap.
Beatty’s deal with the Eagles was worth only $900k, so it’s safe to assume he would be a cheap, depth signing with veteran experience and familiarity with Coughlin and Flaherty.
After scanning depth charts across the league… sorry folks, there really isn’t anyone worth trading for as a bandaid for the Jaguars offense at positions of need.
The intriguing players would likely be expensive deals, such as Browns RB Duke Johnson. Considering that Fournette is this team’s lead back and should be back on the field within a couple of weeks, it’s nearly impossible to assume the Jaguars would send away assets with a capable starter in house in Yeldon.
Offensive line depth is weak across the entire league, so unfortunately there’s no worthwhile deals the jaguars could make for a left tackle. Trading for a starter would make no sense, unless they were nearing the end of their contract, considering the team is invested in Cam Robinson.
As for tight ends, the trade market looks much like the offensive line market. Just not much out there worth trading for.
So, to make up for the lack of trade options, let’s take a look at potential practice squad pickups aroud the league.
Practice squad pickups
Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca
The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.
The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.
Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.
We have promoted rookie LB @N_DeLuca49 to the 53-man active roster from the practice squad.
To make room on the roster, we released 11th-year RB Jamaal Charles. pic.twitter.com/OmiHd2wtvZ
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) October 22, 2018
Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin
In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.
Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.
And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.
“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”
In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.
“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.
In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.
And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.
Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.
Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”
The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.
This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.
Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB
24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”
This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.
Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.
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