JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton examine the Jaguars’ quarterback position in this post-2019 NFL Draft look at the Jaguars’ roster…
Position: Quarterback (5).
Projected starter: Nick Foles.
Others: Gardner Minshew, Cody Kessler, Alex McGough, Tanner Lee.
Arrivals: Foles (unrestricted free agent, Philadelphia Eagles), McGough (free agent, Seattle Seahawks), Minshew (2019 NFL Draft, Round 6).
Departures: Blake Bortles (released).
Offseason breakdown: The Jaguars made Foles the biggest offseason acquisition in franchise history, releasing Bortles – the starter from 2014-2018 – shortly after Foles signed in mid-March. The team signed McGough in early January after he spent his rookie 2018 season on the Seahawks’ practice squad. They selected Minshew No. 178 overall from Washington State in the ’19 draft.
Oehser analysis: This was a quarterback offseason overhaul of franchise-shifting proportion – which was exactly what was expected and needed in the wake of a frustrating 2018 season. Whatever the reason for the Jaguars’ offensive struggles last season – and the reasons were many – the team had to move to on from Bortles to something that represented more hope. Enter Foles, the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for the Eagles following the 2017 season. So, what do the Jaguars have at quarterback now? In Foles, they hope to have a leader with a quick release, late-game clutch gene and superior accuracy; if they do, there’s every chance an offense that struggled in every area late last season could improve accordingly. That’s the level of difference a starting quarterback can make in the NFL, and make no mistake: The Jaguars believe Foles is the starting quarterback for 2019 and for several seasons beyond. That was why they guaranteed Foles more than $50 million, and it’s why they opted against addressing the position early in the draft. What they did instead in the draft was select Minshew, a player of superior football intelligence and mental makeup who the Jaguars believe could give them quality depth at the position going forward. The Jaguars will enter the offseason with more quarterbacks than they need, but that will shake out. Don’t be surprised if it’s Foles and Minshew when the shaking is finished. That’s a dramatically new look, one that will redefine the franchise in the coming seasons.
Sexton analysis: It feels as if the Jaguars have fixed their issues at quarterback. I use “feels” because that’s all I have to go on until the regular season starts. Foles brings his Super Bowl MVP credentials to North Florida – which is more than his predecessor could claim – but until I see him working in the framework of the Jaguars’ offense, I can only go off instinct. Now, that feeling is strong because as I stood in the locker room on the day Foles signed in Jacksonville in March he filled the space with the strength of what he accomplished in Philadelphia. If he has that effect on me, I can only guess he will have the same with his new teammates. He has a strong arm, is nimble and tough under pressure. Mostly, he’s consistent – which Bortles wasn’t. How many times did we wonder which Blake was going to show up against the New York Jets or the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers? It’s hard to envision that being an issue with Foles, which should equate to a better season. Count me in for Minshew as the backup quarterback. We know what Kessler and Lee bring to the table; neither seems to have the same combination of skills, knowledge and bravado that Minshew owns. He won 11 games in his first and only season at Washington State and he only had six months to learn the Air Raid offense after transferring to WSU. If he can do that and can truly go from the classroom to the practice field with very little drop off, he’s the best backup quarterback option currently on the roster.