With a new signal-caller in the huddle, the Jaguars’ receivers will have a little catching up to do as far as their chemistry with veteran quarterback Nick Foles. Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., however feels re-gaining chemistry with Foles is just like “riding a bicycle.” The team was forced to make a quick switch at quarterback during week one, however, with Foles able to practice fully this week, Chark Jr. believes the situation should be much better in terms of timing and getting into a rhythm, allowing the two to connect quickly.
“As long as you’re doing your job, you can bet that Nick’s is gonna do his job,” Chark Jr. told reporters shortly after practice on Monday. “So as long as you getting open, the ball is gonna be at a spot and you just catch it.”
Jaguars receiver Chris Conley agrees with Chark Jr. that the chemistry angle is a tad overplayed. Conley says the biggest adjustment that is made happens on the practice field. Receivers will typically work extra time with their quarterback after practice or before practice to maintain their chemistry along with working on what each player sees during certain plays. “It’s been a long time since we caught the ball coming out of his hand and every quarterback’s ball is a little different,” Conley told reporters shortly after practice on Monday.
Chark Jr. is the Jaguars’ leading receiver currently with 43 receptions for 692 yards and six touchdowns. He achieved that feat mostly with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew II, however his first touchdown reception was with Foles at quarterback. During the first game of the season — and what would turn out to be Foles’ last snap for 10 weeks —, Chark Jr. caught a beautiful 35-yard touchdown pass thrown in stride near the back of the end zone.
Nick Foles & D.J. Chark's 35-yard TD in the corner of the end zone had just a 17.6% completion probability, the most improbable completion of Week 1 to date:— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 8, 2019
Air Distance: 55.7 yds
WR Separation: 0.6 yds
Pass Rush Separation: 1.6 yds#KCvsJAX | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/lFhNH79RFC
Most of the chemistry the two built occurred during training camp — Chark Jr. was still learning and hadn’t caught a touchdown in the NFL yet.
“At this point I feel like I’m a little more advanced than where I was but still in the process of learning everyday. He’s always a guy that’s willing to teach, so with him stepping back in it feels like going back to training camp, still learning different things, different nuances of the game.”
While Minshew did a fine job in terms of controlling the huddle, leadership was a major talking point within the Jaguars’ locker room while discussing Foles.
“Just the leadership that comes with being Nick Foles, being the Super Bowl winning quarterback,” Chark Jr. said when asked about what Foles’ message was to the team last week. “It’s always been there, but with him stepping back in, he’s taken back control of the offense and things like that. Very know-smart, in control at all times you feel like. So it’s more stability just from an experience standpoint.”
Foles is excited to be back on the field, Conley says. “He came out in a walkthrough and he threw about a 55-yard bomb in a walkthrough, so you know he was amped a little bit. He’s excited and ready to go.”
“People should be excited just because he’s a guy that’s gonna prepare meticulously to go out there, to leave it all on the line. He’s gonna go out there -- he’s a gunslinger, he’s just gonna go out there and just gonna let it loose. Let the chips fall where they may.
Conley says both quarterback (Minshew and Foles) energize the huddle, but also agreed with Chark Jr. on Foles’ ability to be a “leader of men.”
Foles has been in plenty of high-pressure situations in the NFL. With the Eagles, he led the team to the playoffs two years in a row after starting quarterback Carson Wentz went down with injuries. Conley believes it’s a positive and a reason why Foles has been successful in the NFL thus far.
“Some people bend and fumble under pressure, and some people really excel under it, and he happens to be one of the people who excel at the highest level under that kind of pressure, knowing that there is no do-overs,” Conley said. “He does really well with that. I think he’s done a really good job of trying to teach people around him just to live in the moment, -- and just play. We’re excited about that and getting into the vein of who he is as a player.”
The Jaguars will need Foles to lead them, especially this week.
“We’ve eliminated any room for error that we have, with this last loss, and just where we are as a team. I think everyone is excited about the prospects of what we can do, we believe we can win games and we can be a dangerous team, but really right now it just comes down to this week.”