Offseason kickoff: Familiarity helping Foles

JACKSONVILLE – He’s facing a lot of new and a little familiar.

New is to be expected considering Nick Foles’ circumstances, but the Jaguars’ starting quarterback on Tuesday said the familiar is significant and positive.

“It really helps,” Foles said on Day 2 of the Jaguars’ 2019 offseason program.

Foles spoke to Jacksonville media in mid-March, a day after becoming the highest-profile free agent in franchise history. Tuesday’s media availability at TIAA Bank Field was his first since arriving in Jacksonville for the voluntary offseason program that began Monday.

“He’s a really good guy,” Jaguars veteran defensive end and team leader Calais Campbell said of Foles. “I have strong confidence in him. He brings a presence with him. It’s a good sign.”

Added Campbell, “I’ve always respected him. He’s really developed into a quality player. He loves the game and comes in with the right attitude every single day.”

Foles, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl LII for the Eagles following the 2017 season, has a reputation as a strong locker-room leader. Developing into that role is something he said begins this week.

“All of us were excited to get back into the building [Monday] and get back to work,” he said. “For me, it’s just an opportunity to get to know everyone. I really haven’t had the opportunity to get to know the guys in this building. When I signed, a lot of players aren’t here that time of year. …

“We’re all here to make things better and to ultimately give us an opportunity to succeed. To do that, you have to build a foundation. That’s trust and getting to know each other. That’s why this time of year is great. … You get an opportunity to know the guys. Then you can build trust and grow from there.”

Foles said he called Campbell shortly after signing with the idea of familiarizing himself with the Jaguars as much as possible.

“I wanted to hear about his time here, the locker room – what it’s like here,” Foles said. “I didn’t know. This is all new to me. We had a great conversation. Ultimately, it’s important for me to understand the people here, what’s been going on, what they see, the tempo of the week, how they practice. Stuff like that is good for me to know, because I can acclimate quicker.”

Much of Foles’ Tuesday availability was spent discussing his relationship with new Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo – and how that will help his transition to his new team.

“Flip and I have been together before, so we understand each other’s mentality,” Foles said. “That’s the big thing: as a play-caller and a quarterback, you have to build that relationship and know how each other works. There is a foundation set for Flip and I. We just have to build on that.”

DeFilippo, who spent the first part of the 2018 season as the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator, served as Eagles quarterbacks coach in 2016-2017. Many of his offensive concepts – and much of the terminology of the new Jaguars’ playbook – will be the same as Foles used in Philadelphia the past two seasons.

“It’s going to be a little different,” Foles said. “There’s some verbiage that’s different, but that’s this time of year: teaching the guys verbiage, me learning the stuff that’s a little bit different for me, then teaching guys what I expect, what I see, what I feel, so we can be on the same page …

“That’s where this time of year is just so valuable.”

Foles said Tuesday’s meetings marked the beginning of the offseason offensive install.

“The goal is to get everything down this time of year,” Foles said.

Foles also said he agrees with what Head Coach Doug Marrone has said multiple times this offseason – that a quarterback ideally will have a better grasp of the offense than other players.

“I’d say if you’re running the offense you probably should know it pretty well,” Foles said. “Ultimately at quarterback, you’re the one that’s going to change plays if need be.”

Foles said having worked with DeFilippo before undoubtedly will mean having a “head start” in the transition.

“If you go to an offense that’s totally different, schematically and verbiage-wise it takes a little bit longer,” Foles said. “But because there are similarities, we’ll be able to go a lot faster. Then, I’ll be able to ultimately teach the guys and talk to them at a high level to where they can understand what I see. Then, if they don’t understand I can help them with that.

“It’s wonderful. Anytime you know someone, and you get along with that person and you’re on the same page and you get to go forward on a new journey, it’s huge.”

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