John DeFilippo Prepared for Jacksonville's Offensive Transition to Nick Foles
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo knows his offense is undergoing a big change this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. With a new quarterback at the helm in Nick Foles, the offense is undergoing perhaps the most drastic change any unit can during the season.
But DeFilippo is confident in how the offense will make its transition from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II to the veteran Foles. Despite Foles not taking a snap since the first quarter of Week 1 due to a clavicle injury he suffered against the Kansas City Chiefs on his 11th play as the Jaguars quarterback, Foles isn't completely behind the eight ball.
For instance, Foles spent the entire offseason and training camp learning the Jaguars' playbook and what DeFilippo wants to do on offense. Plus, DeFilippo was Foles' quarterback coach with the Philadelphia Eagles during the Eagles' historic 2017 season and playoff run.
“Our base system’s in, and Nick practiced all offseason and in training camp," DeFilippo said Thursday. "And obviously my past with him, I kind of know what he’s good at, and things that he likes and doesn’t like."
With all of these things in mind, DeFilippo is hoping the transition to Foles will maybe be easier than a quarterback change would be in any other circumstance.
"So, I think that transition, that layer of cake is off the table. So, I think it’s going to be easier maybe than some other transitions, but we’ll see," DeFilippo said. "Like I said, it’s all about getting the quarterback comfortable, it’s all about protecting him. Everything starts with protection, especially when you have a guy that’s been out for a while with an injury.”
As DeFilippo mentioned, he is likely going to focus his playcalling around getting Foles comfortable on Sunday. The offense, which ranks 24th in the NFL in points per game with 19.6, is going to need to improve with Foles at the helm if the 4-5 Jaguars are going to make noise in Week 11 and beyond.
But with Foles coming off of a two-month hiatus, just how much will be expected out of Foles and what will DeFilippo do to help make the transition an effective one?
“We expect a lot of all of our quarterbacks," DeFilippo said. "The game will turn out the way it does on Sunday. You never know with a guy coming back that’s been off for so long. And your goal, early on in the game, especially if a quarterback’s been playing a long time where it’s his first game back, is to gain confidence early."
"So, we’re going to do some things that he’s comfortable with and try to get some things going early that we think we can have success with," he continued.
"So, I think it’s very important that you get the guy that’s been out of it – and he’s human, he’s going to have some, not anxiety, but he’s going to be anxious to get back out there and play as well, so we just have to make sure we control those emotions. He and I have talked about that, and [we’ll] take it one play at a time."
While Foles' anxiousness to be back on the field may or not play a role in the offense's transition on Sunday, DeFilippo noted it is not necessarily a flaw. Instead, it shows how much the player is invested in his team and the game's outcome.
"I don’t think anybody’s immune to that to be honest with you. I think we all feel pressure and it’s just a matter of how you handle that pressure," DeFilippo said. "
At the end of the day, the Jaguars will be returning to a version of their offense that is much closer to what they worked on all offseason and training camp than the offense they ran over the last two months were. Because of that, and a number of other variables, it could be expected that the offense will at least look more efficient.
But just how much better the offense looks depends on the play of Foles and how well DeFilippo can transition his offense back to having him under center. In terms of Foles the person though, DeFilippo has no question he will be ready to play Sunday.
"I think Nick is, because of the topics you guys have asked earlier – the leadership style, people gravitating towards him – I think he has a tremendous amount of belief in his teammates," DeFilippo said.
"And so, I think when you have a firm belief in yourself, and a firm (belief) in your teammates, I think you have a chance to go out there and play well. And the other thing that Nick does a fantastic job of is he is in the moment all the time. When you talk to guys about taking it one play at a time, he literally takes it one play at a time. And I talk about short-term memory in here a lot; he defines short-term memory. If he goes out and has a bad play on Sunday, we’re going to move on and get better from there.”