Does Nick Foles make the Jacksonville Jaguars elite?

It’s no secret that Nick Foles played exceptionally well for the Eagles. The dominance of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense is also well documented. Does the addition of Foles make Jacksonville elite in 2019?

Perhaps it is too kind to call Nick Foles an NFL star. He hasn’t even played enough regular season football to reach that level. At the very least, he has shown star ability on the biggest of stages. With the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ big gamble signing him this offseason, it begs the question of how much of a difference Foles can make and whether he’s a true franchise quarterback. The Jaguars certainly spent like he is.

Foles’ capability and success in the postseason for the Eagles actually priced him out of returning to that franchise. If he had been worse or not used at all, he probably would still be in Philadelphia as a backup.

Instead, by stepping in for Carson Wentz and winning a Super Bowl, Foles found himself too expensive for the city in which he wanted to play. The Eagles were never going to pick Foles over Wentz. The veteran had to move on. Does the addition of Foles make the Jaguars elite in 2019?

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate Nick Foles in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

After the Philadelphia Eagles picked up Foles’ option in an attempt to trade him, he nixed the plan by opting out of the dual option year and signed with Jacksonville for $88 million over four years. It was quite the statement, even if only about half of the $88 million is guaranteed. The Jaguars are betting on Foles being the man he was in the Super Bowl and recent postseason appearances. They are hoping he isn’t also more Joe Flacco than a true franchise passer.

It is hard to imagine Foles stepping in and immediately leading this offensive squad to prominence. He is joining a new system with players he’s never thrown to before.

He also doesn’t have a ton of game-breaking talent on his side. The strength of the Jags is certainly on the defensive side of the ball. It will be up to Foles to make sure the offense doesn’t blow it for the rest of them like it did last year.

There is no No. 1 wide receiver on the roster. I like Dede Westbrook but not as the guy who has to beat double teams. There is no proven tight end and no other receivers who have proven their worth. Even running back is a question with the injury-prone Leonard Fournette backed by the injury-prone Thomas Rawls, teamed with the ever uninspiring Alfred Blue. A below-average offensive line won’t help matters.

So the question comes down to whether or not Foles can make his teammates better and lift up the unit. He’s done so before but very sparingly. What I expect to happen is somewhat misleading.

Foles will be a step up over what Blake Bortles had delivered recently. The defense will also remain elite, giving off the impression that this team has moved up a tier in the AFC. In actuality, the only difference may be moving from bad quarterback play to average quarterback play. But with a top five defense in tow, it’s enough to make Foles seem like a star.

Dan Salem:

The quarterback always gets all the credit and all the blame. Was Foles truly the reason that Philadelphia won a Super Bowl? He certainly played very well, but the Eagles had an elite defense. Is it true that he elevated their offense? I believe he did. Foles proved himself to be an excellent leader as well. Who cares if the price tag was high? Foles makes Jacksonville better right now.

The addition of Nick Foles did not make sense for many teams, but it works for the Jaguars. This is a team one season removed from elite status. Jacksonville got a great year out of Blake Bortles and nearly made the Super Bowl. I would argue that a great Bortles season is equivalent to a baseline Foles season.

We obviously have limited data on Foles with a plethora of games to evaluate Bortles. Yet the numbers don’t lie. Bortles was inconsistent and turnover prone, yet he had one great year (great for him) and the team was elite. Foles played at that same level every time he was given an opportunity with Philadelphia. It’s reasonable to assume you’ll get “great Bortles” with Foles this season.

Jacksonville now has a reliable and consistent quarterback. They have a proven leader on offense. I don’t think you can ask much more out of your quarterback, knowing the player is not elite at his position.

Foles is not going to put up incredible numbers, but removing the top 10 quarterbacks leaves a wash of mixed results. He sits near the very top of that group of players right now. Foles also has a high ceiling for growth. He offers everything that Bortles couldn’t.

What truly excites me about this move is what it does to the Jaguars as a whole. Their defense is going to bounce back and be excellent. They weren’t even that bad last year, just worse than the elite unit that dominated in 2017. A great defense needs a consistent offense to win. They need an offense that stays on the field long enough to get them rest, and ideally scores points. That is right in Foles’ wheel house. Don’t be surprised to see “his” team return to the playoffs this year.