There is a lot you can read from the Jacksonville Jaguars making the change from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II to veteran free agent signing Nick Foles. For me, I think it’s a move made by people worried about keeping their jobs and want to avoid “rookie” days, for some it’s a sign in their belief in the veteran quarterback.
My question with the move however, is how does it change expectations both from a fans point of view and from an ownership’s point of view.
This isn’t necessarily about your expectations for Nick Foles, as Ryan O’Bleness went over that in a separate piece, but what do you expect to happen in different scenarios play out at the end of the season.
What happens if the Jaguars make the playoffs?
I think this one is pretty easy. If the Jaguars make the playoffs, regardless if it’s a one-and-done, I think every one is back. You run it back in 2020 with Nick Foles, because making the playoffs means you went at the very least 5-2 to finish out 2019 and there should be belief you can make it back the following year.
But, this is where the real juice is:
What happens if the Jaguars DON’T make the playoffs?
I posed this question on Twitter and got a myriad of responses. The initial premise was asking if going back to Nick Foles made the expectations for Doug Marrone, Dave Caldwell and Tom Coughlin playoffs or bust? Does it put that much more pressure on the regime to make the playoffs? Do you give them a pass if they whiff?
Personally for me, the move to Nick Foles should make it playoffs or bust. Making the move should signal clearly that you think Foles improves you to the point of winning even more games and not treading water at .500. Jaguars owner Shad Khan gave kind of an ultimatum last season about significant improvement, and if you miss the playoffs with an 8-8/9-7 record, how much improvement was that really? You spent all that money to improve your win total to still not be good enough?
If going to Foles doesn’t make it playoffs or bust, then what really is the point of making that move? Minshew had his struggles, but he also was playing well enough for you to arguably have a winning record at this point in the season, so you can’t really use the “We had to start a rookie” excuse to fall back on because that rookie is primarily the reason the season wasn’t a complete disaster from Week 1.
So in a way, Minshew’s play was a double edged sword for this regime. He played well enough to make them look like geniuses for not only picking him, but not making the knee-jerk move at the backup position when he struggled in the preseason. But, Minshew also played well enough to keep you in the playoff hunt and then when you insert the veteran quarterback back into the equation... you kind of have to make it, right?
My biggest fear for this franchise right now is they end up limping to 8-8, the offense maintains its consistency struggles and everyone decides to run it back in 2020 on lame duck deals for the staff and front office, it would be another year of going with a half-measure.
So, TL;DR: If the Jaguars miss the playoffs, do you fire everyone?