It’s time to admit it, whether you want to or not: the Blake Bortles era is coming to a screeching halt in Jacksonville. Bortles is a liability more often than not, and can’t be relied on to manage the game the way the Jaguars are trying to get him to. The Jaguars need to make a change at QB, and they need to do it soon. However, quarterback is the one position in which you can’t just come in and start playing right away, so unless a trade occurs, we’ll forego the “give up all the first-round picks for a big-name guy” talk here. Additionally, we’re going to have to look at realistic scenarios, not pie-in-the-sky items. For example, it would be great to have a two-time-Super-Bowl-winner as the QB of the Jaguars, but Eli Manning will very likely not waive his no-trade clause.
There are three names to keep an eye on this offseason, as the churn of rosters picks up and trades can once again be agreed to. First, Tyrod Taylor. The Jaguars and Browns have a history of making trades, and Taylor could be swapped for Bortles and a low pick. Taylor is an underrated quarterback who is an extremely hard worker. I really like his skill set and athleticism. Second, although I don’t see him going anywhere, Nick Foles. He will be a hot name again and the Eagles could move him and draft a backup to save cap room. Third, Joe Flacco. The Ravens traded back up into the first round of the 2018 draft to pick Lamar Jackson. While he looks very inexperienced in the Wildcat, Jackson worked a lot as a traditional QB in Bobby Petrino’s system at Louisville, and I think that if he is entrusted with the full responsibilities of a QB instead of being a gadget guy, he will thrive in the league. That makes Flacco expendable, and Baltimore could take the dead money hit to cut him and move on. Although everyone in the country could question whether he is an “elite” quarterback, Flacco is a definite, significant upgrade over Bortles. If Flacco hits the free agent market he would likely command just as much money as Kirk Cousins did in the 2018 offseason.
I did not include Derek Carr on that list because Jon Gruden is an absolute nut bar and could hold onto Carr throughout all his craziness with the Raiders.
The Jaguars could also draft a quarterback. Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield have shown that QBs don’t need to sit quite so much anymore. Josh Rosen, to a lesser extent, has shown the same. If you find the right QB, they will pay big dividends for your franchise in the long run. This year will be unique as well, because several QB-needy teams took the plunge last year with drafting one in 2018. A quick examination of the league shows that of the likely high-picking teams, the only ones that should be in the market for a QB in the top ten are likely the Giants, Denver, and maybe Tampa. Everyone else has their guy, most likely. In this sense, I would say it is highly likely the Jaguars will pivot and pick a quarterback in the 2019 draft, especially if they pick one through fifteen.
Nobody likes to think about the draft in week 8, but I’m here not to say the season is ruined (even if it may be), but rather look toward the future, with a Quarterback That Doesn’t Suck. One of the big names is Ryan Finley of NC State. He’s got arm strength questions, meaning people don’t think he can move it down the field, but at least seems to look the part. Another one is Drew Lock of Missouri. While I, a Jaguars fan, am extremely hesitant to pick up another Missouri QB in the draft (I think that fear is called Gabbertitis), Lock appears to have the football smarts, makes good progression in his reads, and has the physical game to back up his brain. Also he’s not transferred all over the place.
But a name I’m intrigued with and one I think you should keep in mind is Will Grier of West Virginia. Grier has a little bit of baggage and didn’t have the best start to his college career, playing at Florida during the Muschamp era. We won’t go there, I don’t want to stir up too many bad memories. He was suspended for a year for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, and transferred to West Virginia. Since his return, however, Grier’s been pretty solid, racking up nearly 3,500 yards in 2017 and on pace to do at least that this season. He seems to have matured from the incident that occurred that caused him to be suspended and he does look like he has the field vision needed to not zero in on his targets and tell the defense what he’s doing. I really like his arm, and his release is solid. He does a really good job with those back-shoulder throws, putting the ball where the receiver can easily grab it. He could be one of those “underrated gem” QBs.
Whatever may happen, I hope it happens soon. The Bortles era needs to come to an end, so that the Jaguars can truly make the change they need to and keep up with the rest of the league – yes, running is great and balance is important, but teams win with passing and offensive innovation, too, not just “ground and pound” all day.
I wrote all that before the Jaguars signed Landry Jones on Wednesday. I still believe each and every word and think that some sort of change will happen, but now with this “non-throwing-shoulder injury” it is pretty telling, in my opinion, that Blake’s season is done. An injury to one shoulder will affect your overall range of upper body motion. Also, it can make you afraid to get hit. Blake has played a lot through injury; he played through a wrist injury all last season, it seems. However, this may be the excuse the team needs to put him on the shelf for the rest of the year. If you think your starting QB will play in the next game, but you need a guy to come in and take scout reps so the backup can take the first-team reps, you don’t do that on a bye, where guys will be off for an extended period of time, you do it on a Monday or Tuesday before practice for the next game starts. Landry Jones’ signing and the timing of it rings loudly of “we need you to come in and get a basic understanding of the playbook,” something that would not be needed if Blake truly were healthy. If Blake doesn’t improve significantly, the Jaguars will place him on Injured Reserve this week or next and go with Cody Kessler the rest of the season. The move would not only serve as a way for the coaches and staff to show the players they’re willing to make a change to help the team, it would also serve as a bit of a spark to the offense. Kessler doesn’t represent the upgrade at the position the Jags need, but he is at least a parallel move, and probably won’t fumble the first series of the game.
We had a few interesting trades as the deadline came and went on Tuesday, and nothing major really happened. Green Bay fans are up in arms over the trades of running back Ty Montgomery and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but to be completely honest, unless the Packers trade Aaron Rodgers, they’ll be in contention for a long time to come.
And finally, our first firing of the year came on Monday, as the Browns not only let go of Hue Jackson (finally), but also Todd Haley (why was he even there), and made Greggggggg Williams their head coach to finish out the season (lol). I said multiple times that the Browns needed a coach to take their talent to the next level but I don’t think Bountygate Guy is the permanent answer. They’ll move on to another guy after the season is over. Don’t get too excited until you see the name, Browns fans.
Oh, did you see my story on how the Jags need to make a change at GM on Monday? Go read it if you haven’t.
AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
BONUS AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE: PIE EDITION
4. Coconut Cream
WEEK NINE PICKS AND PREVIEWS
RAIDERS @ 49ERS – If you willingly watch this tonight, please have yourself examined by a medical professional.
OAK 2 SF 5
FALCONS @ REDSKINS – This should be a fun game, except… what’s that? Washington shored up its secondary by trading for Ha Ha Clinton Dix, and may win its division? Welp… unless Sark can pull a miracle out of his Special Bag of Sark Treats, we may see the Redskins win this. They have a pretty solid three-game winning streak, and the Falcons have only notched wins over the Panthers (early-season edition), Bucs, and Giants.
ATL 21 WSH 30
LIONS @ VIKINGS – The Vikings are Not Great this year, but they’re better than the Lions, slightly. If the Lions get their crap together, they can outmatch a Vikes team that doesn’t quite know what it is yet. However, I’ll stick with Minny here – their only home losses have been against the Bills in a fluke and the Saints, one of the best teams in the NFL.
DET 17 MIN 35
STEELERS @ RAVENS – Remember how last week the Jaguars needed a win going into the bye to keep their season feeling secure? That’s the Ravens, only they can actually pull it off. The Steelers are still not sure what they are and their defense is a trash pile. They have a three-game winning streak but the Browns game was a lot closer than the score suggests.
PIT 21 BAL 28
CHIEFS @ BROWNS – Congrats, GreggggGGgggggGG Williams, your first game as Browns Interim Head Coach is one you will lose, by a lot.
KC 49 CLE 21
JETS @ DOLPHINS – Who cares?
NYJ 18 MIA 21
BEARS @ BILLS – Peterman is starting again. The question is not “who will win” but rather, “how much will the Bears win by?”
CHI 35 BUF 9
BUCS @ PANTHERS – Tampa is in freefall. Carolina is very much not. The winner is obvious.
TB 17 CAR 24
CHARGERS @ SEAHAWKS – If the Chargers get good, but don’t have anyone to watch them in their stadium are they still good?
LAC 20 SEA 12
TEXANS @ BRONCOS – As a Jaguars fan I am obligated to dislike the Texans, but they are starting to look better and better. They may win the division, although the Colts are starting to surge too. The Broncos whiffed on their head coach choice, big time. Starting to think Denver is where Jack Del Rio may make his next stop as head coach.
HOU 19 DEN 7
RAMS @ SAINTS – Game of the week material right here. Drew Brees has a ton of weapons, so does Jared Goff. Both head coaches are named Sean. But so far, Wade Phillips has had an answer for each of the Rams’ opponents, and I think he will here too.
LAR 30 NO 24
PACKERS @ PATRIOTS – This should be a really fun game to watch, with two of the greatest quarterbacks of our time duking it out. But man, I just really hope the Packers win.
GB 21 NE 17
TITANS @ COWBOYS – Oh, man, really? This is what we’re closing the week out with? Folks, the ratings for this will be artificially inflated because it’s the Cowboys. This game will, otherwise, be uninteresting.
TEN 10 DAL 21