Through Two Games, Nick Foles Has Yet to Be a Solution for Jaguars
It is early in the Nick Foles era for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but so far the returns have surely been far from what head coach Doug Marrone was hoping for when he benched rookie phenom Gardner Minshew II for the veteran passer.
“I think for me, looking back at all of the work, the work that we put in and I just go back to the experience and what he’s going to be able to do. And I think that’s going to give us the ability [to have] a better chance of winning right now,” Marrone said on Nov. 5 when he officially named Foles the starter moving forward.
Since then, the Jaguars have turned in two of their worst offensive performances in a row and the team is 0-2. In that span since Foles became the starter once more, the team has been outscored 75-33. The offense has put 10 points combined in first halves. There are many issues with this Jaguars team but as of late, the offense has been a glaring one.
In his two games starting since Minshew went back to the bench, Foles has combined for 65 of 95 passing for 568 yards, one touchdown and one interception. That is 5.98 yards per attempt overall. In each of his starts, he has thrown 47+ passes and failed to eclipse 300 yards passing.
In Week 11, Foles threw for a meager 6.3 yards per attempt. In today’s 42-20 loss to the Tennesee Titans, Foles’ yards per attempt somehow fell even more, this time dropping to 5.7.
For context, Gardner Minshew II threw for 374 yards the lone time he attempted 40+ passes this season (Week 5 vs. the Panthers). The only time Minshew had a game with yards per attempt as low as either of Foles’ last two starts was in Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints (5.62 yards per attempt).
Minshew’s final game as starter, a four-turnover game in a 26-3 loss to the Houston Texans, certainly left a poor taste in many people’s mouths. But the last two games have been far from an improvement to the days of Minshew Mania. Instead, the Jaguars’ passing offense has taken a step back.
Jacksonville’s 0-2 record with Foles the last two weeks is obviously not all on Foles. The Jaguars’ defense has fallen apart in the third quarter and has allowed over 200 yards rushing in each of the last two games. The entire team is struggling.
But when Marrone sat Minshew, an electric rookie who elevated the offense thanks to his mobility and knack for hitting long throws down the field, the expectation was that Foles would be able to take the offense to another level. Instead, the offense has been stagnant.
Marrone said after Sunday’s loss that he would not be making a quarterback change, and that isn’t surprising. It was only a few months ago when the Jaguars gave Foles a four-year, $88 million contract with $50.125 million in guaranteed money (most in franchise history). Foles is sticking around for quite some time due to his contract, and the massive money paid to him this offseason essentially mandated he return to the field once he recovered from the clavicle injury he sustained in Week 1.
But through two games, each must-win games that Jacksonville could not afford to lose, Foles has not looked like an upgrade over Minshew. This is concerning for Jacksonville considering that not only did the team hedge its bets on him, but he is in an offense that is designed specifically for him, while Minshew forced the team’s offensive staff to change their playbook dramatically.
Foles is far from the Jaguars’ only problem. But so far, he has also looked far from being the solution they badly need.