The Jaguars' offense — led by rookie QB Gardner Minshew — has done a lot of things well in 2019. They were one of the more explosive teams in football during Minshew's reign. His ability to extend plays and seemingly make something out of nothing, along with his famous mustache and countless entertaining stories, have made Minshew a national icon.
But clearly, all has not been right on the offensive side of the ball for the Jaguars.
The team struggled on third down and in the red zone with the Mustachioed Minshew taking the snaps. The Jaguars have converted on just 34% of their third down attempts this year, the eighth-worst rate in the NFL.
In the red zone, the offense have been even worse. The Jaguars have scored touchdowns on just 34.5 percent of their red zone trips, the third-worst mark in football.
As Nick Foles prepares to make his first start since week one, the Jaguars are banking on the idea that Foles will help out greatly in both areas.
On Wednesday, Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone talked about the idea of Foles helping in the red zone. "Obviously, we're banking on that," said Marrone. "I think that his experience down there, and the things that he can do, hopefully, that will be able to give us a bump there. But I don't think it's going to just be one player. I think obviously, the quarterback's an important part of it, but I think everyone else has to increase their play down in there also."
Getting Foles back in the lineup should help the Jaguars in the red zone. He's intimately familiar with the playbook that was designed to accentuate his abilities. And he has a sense of calm that should help everyone around him. When things got tight close to the endzone, Gardner Minshew often seemed to get happy feet. That won't be a problem with Foles. It should be noted, however, that Minshew had a respectable completion percentage inside the 20 and had a TD-INT ratio of 9-0 in the red zone. Still, the Jaguars weren't able to find the endzone with enough regularity, and given the circumstances, Foles should be able to improve upon that.
Nick Foles was dynamic in 2018 when it came to converting on third downs. Over his final three starts of last season, Foles guided the Eagles to a third down conversion rate of over 70. Yes, that's double what the Jaguars have been able to do so far in 2019. If Foles can get anywhere close to that, it'll significantly improve the viability and consistency of the Jaguars' offense.
But it isn't all on the quarterback position when it comes to keeping the chains moving. The receivers have to get open and catch the ball, and the offensive line has to do their part as well.
Doug Marrone believes the offensive line can improve on first and second down to help the Jaguars get into more advantageous situations on third down.
"I think we (on the offensive line) can do a much better job, especially when we talk about first down, and second down and get some more manageable situations on third down for ourselves. I don't think we are doing a very good job there."
The Jaguars need Nick Foles to raise the level of consistency at the QB position and help make the players around him better. If he can do that, the Jaguars will have a legitimate chance to compete for the playoffs in December.
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