View from the O-Zone: The wait continues

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The clock ticks, and the calendar turns.

Because those things are true, we soon will know the Jaguars’ starting quarterback next season – but as the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine begins, we have no idea.

That made Wednesday a much-anticipated day for Jaguars observers. Still, while the Jaguars’ decision-makers spoke publicly Wednesday – and while they said more than have in some time – they at the same time didn’t say much at all.

“We’re taking a big-picture approach,” Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said during his 2019 combine media availability when asked about the quarterback position.

That was one thing Caldwell said about quarterbacks Wednesday, and it admittedly wasn’t a particularly substantive thing. The reality is little of substance was said about the Jaguars’ quarterback situation Wednesday because there’s simply little official yet to say. Yes, the wait continues.

Here’s what we do know:

Blake Bortles – the starter from Week 3 of 2014 until late this past season – remains on the roster, and Caldwell confirmed that Bortles has not been told he will not be on the team next season.

“No,” Caldwell said when asked if he had told Bortles such a thing.

But when Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone spoke Wednesday, they said enough to again make clear what has been speculated upon since late last season and before – that Bortles being on the roster next season is between uncertain and unlikely. And leaning toward the latter.

“His name is in the mix,” Caldwell said of Bortles. “He has to be because as of right now he’s our starting quarterback.”

Observers have long speculated that the Jaguars will part ways with Bortles around the March 13 start of the 2019 NFL League year, and observers have speculated in recent weeks/months that the Jaguars could have interest in Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

Neither Marrone nor Caldwell discussed Foles Wednesday, though the Foles-Jaguars speculation gained significant momentum when Philadelphia Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman surprised the combine by announcing that the team will not place the franchise tag on Foles. Speculation had been the Eagles could “tag” Foles and trade him to another team before March 13. Wednesday’s news means Foles will become a free agent.

Whether Foles is in the Jaguars’ future we don’t know. We do know both Caldwell and Marrone spent time Wednesday talking in general terms about quarterbacks. Marrone talked about liking knowledgeable, experienced players at the position – traits pretty much any coach likes in a quarterback. He also talked about liking quarterbacks who can buy extra time, either by stepping up in the pocket or using athleticism – again, a common sentiment when coaches discuss the position.

Marrone did say the uncertainty at the position has been a factor this offseason since the January hiring of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

“It is challenging offensively,” Marrone said. “A lot of it depends on who is the quarterback. Basically, what we have been able to do is put in a playbook, which is like a menu that has everything covered. Depending on what we do at quarterback and what we do at other positions, we are able to fill that in as we get that player.”

Caldwell while talking about a big-picture approach talked about quarterback being a “key part” of the offseason – but not the entire story.

“The quarterback will slide in place when it is time for that player to come in place,” Caldwell said. “It may not be till the draft, it may be through free agency, but when that time comes, we want to make sure we have the best team offensively and defensively around that position.”

What else did we learn about quarterback Wednesday? One, that Bortles is still working out at the Jaguars’ facility – and that Marrone has seen him since the end of the season. Marrone said Bortles has handled the situation with class – characteristic of a player who has handled himself thusly throughout his career.

We learned, too, that Caldwell is confident the Jaguars – who currently hold the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft – can trade up if necessary. He cited the team having an extra third-round selection this season as a reason.

That quote will excite fans who believe Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins or Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray as the best option. Other fans will listen to Marrone speak of wanting experienced, knowledgeable players at the position and get excited over Foles.

The guess here remains that Foles will be an option – at the right price. The guess here is that a rookie is an option, too – with Haskins perhaps the most likely if they don’t acquire Foles. Either way: Don’t read too much into anything said Wednesday.

That’s because nothing much of substance was said – because nothing of substance could be said. Not anything that will tell us a definite direction. Not yet.

The clock ticks, and the calendar turns. And for now, we must wait.

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