After the Jaguars made an unexpected appearance in the 2017 AFC Championship, they had a decision to make regarding quarterback Blake Bortles, who was entering the fifth and final year of his rookie deal. They made the wrong decision.
The Jaguars converted the balance of the contract to a three-year arrangement that paid out $26.5 million guaranteed, and then the Jaguars finally decided after one more year that Bortles isn’t the answer. Fueling the decision was the availbility of Nick Foles, the Super Bowl LII MVP who came relatively cheap ($22 million per year), thanks to lingering doubts about his abilities — doubts that surely will serve only to fuel Foles for 2019, and beyond.
Yes, Foles struggled with the Rams. His time with the Chiefs, while underrated, wasn’t spectacular. But forget about the distant past. More recently, he has proven that, in the right system and with the right support and the right coaching, he can be the right man for the job. By reuniting him with former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Foles should be in good hands, and the Jaguars should be in a great spot.
Foles carries with him a vastly underrated set of intangibles. He can lead. He can inspire. He can connect. He can hold teammates accountable because he makes himself accountable.
Bortles, frankly, never really clicked, but the Jaguars (until Foles was available) never really had a better option (other than passing on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson for Leonard Fournette, that is). Too many teammates resented the double standard that the team appied to Bortles, demanding excellence from them but looking the other way regarding the obvious deficiencies at the most important position on either side of the ball.
With Foles, the most important position on either side of the ball is taken care of. With plenty of other talented players, the Jaguars could threaten to recapture the division, and they could shake up the upper crust of the conference.
However it plays out, they’ll be better off than they were with Bortles.