Now that we’ve had the week of free agency to get everything out about the Jacksonville Jaguars signings, we can move forward from arguing about contract dollars and worth and move on to discussing how the signings will impact the Jaguars for the 2019 season and beyond. Obviously the biggest move the Jaguars made was swapping out Blake Bortles for Nick Foles.
So the question initially becomes; How many wins is Nick Foles worth?
The 2018 season was a massive disappointment for the Jaguars, namely on the offensive side of the ball. It was one of the worst offenses in the league and second to last in points per game with an average of 15.3. To be frank, you’re not going to win many games only scoring 15 points and to do so requires a near lights out performance by your defense. Asking your defense to do that every game, as we saw last season, isn’t sustainable.
That’s not to say there weren’t some games where the Jaguars defense let them down, but by and large it was the lack of production on offense that did the 2018 Jaguars in, even with all the injuries.
Could Foles have saved 2018?
One of the biggest arguments during the 2018 season was about the quarterback position and how much it was helping/hurting the Jaguars. Often you’d hear people exclaim that no quarterback could have success for the Jaguars that season because of the lack of playmakers and the injuries to the offensive line. I wholeheartedly disagree with that and think even someone like Nick Foles could have won more games last season because he’s simply a much better quarterback overall than Blake Bortles or Cody Kessler.
My evidence: The Jaguars nearly went 3-1 with Cody Kessler starting.
The Jaguars lost six games in 2018 by six points or less, four of those by a field goal. If the Jaguars anemic offense was able to just score an average of five points more per game they probably win at least four of those games, kicking their record to 9-7. It still misses the playoffs, but that’s a hell of a lot better than 5-11.
A big sink in the Jaguars offense last season was they just got absolutely nothing for the quarterback position, regardless of what was going on around them. Simply put, in a vacuum both Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler were awful anchors for the Jaguars offense in different ways. For Bortles, he couldn’t hit simple passes and didn’t take care of the football. For Kessler, you lost any ability for explosive plays and you had to play the grinder game.
But playing that grinder game kept the Jaguars close enough to win some games, but it also makes it so a simple mistake kills you. The Jaguars with Foles probably beat the Steelers, they probably beat Washington and they still beat the Dolphins.
A simple upgrade to a consistently average quarterback, at worst, transforms that offense. It won’t be the Kansas City Chiefs, but maybe you’re the Baltimore Ravens or Cincinnati Bengals and averaging 23-24 points per game.
Nick Foles doesn’t need to make the Jaguars offense a Top 5 offense in the NFL, they just need to average about 23-24 points a game as long as the defense stays as good as it has been the past two years and they should win a handful more games than they did in 2018, even with the lack of offensive playmakers they currently have.
If Foles can do that, he will be well worth his contract.