By Hays Carlyon
I’m guilty of it. But, it’s time to move on.
Praising new Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles does not have to begin with a statement of support for former quarterback Blake Bortles.
I’ve heard enough to know I’m not alone.
The Jaguars cut Bortles this off-season after a modicum of success, but mostly subpar play in his five years. Bortles handled his adversity with class and was always cooperative.
It’s tough to disparage an athlete who you know gave all he had. Blake did. It just wasn’t good enough.
So, I’ve found a solution with inspiration from HBO’s comedy series “Silicon Valley.”
We can drop the statement of support for Blake when praising Foles with a simple acronym.
BIGBY: Blake Is Great But Y’know.
Here’s how to use it, if you’re so inclined.
“BIGBY, Foles is way more accurate.”
“BIGBY, Foles is playing the position at a much higher level.”
“BIGBY, the Jaguars might actually have a consistent passing game this season with Foles.”
I estimate this will save me at least 45 minutes a day in talking about the Jaguars with friends, fans and on “The Frangie Show.”
Through OTAs and four practices in training camp, it’s no contest.
Foles looks to be the significant upgrade over Bortles that Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone envisioned when they signed him as a free agent in March.
The ball barely touched the ground in Saturday’s practice. Foles has been consistently good throughout camp with extended moments of greatness.
Here’s what I’ve learned about him through four camp practices.
BIGBY, it’s nice that Foles didn’t have to bunk up with passing guru Tom House this summer to feel good about his mechanics.
Foles barely threw during the five-week break after June’s mandatory minicamp. He said he threw around with his wife and brother-in-law once and then with the other quarterbacks the day before camp started. Bortles always went to California to work with House and Adam Dedeaux trying to hone his perpetually-flawed mechanics and fundamentals.
“I always like getting away from it for a little bit,” Foles said. “The first day I want to be so excited to throw. … I feel like I’m more hypersensitive to all my fundamentals on these days and I get to go out there and have fun, get it back and acclimate that way. That’s just something that I’ve always done. That’s just what’s best for me and some guys throw all the time, that’s just how it is.”
BIGBY, Foles is thinking about things on a higher level of quarterbacking then Bortles was ever able to here.
Because Foles doesn’t have to constantly worry about his mechanics slipping, he’s operating on an elevated level. He’s also got a strong grasp of first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s offense.
“I want to see what the defense sees,” Foles said. “I want to see what they’re thinking based on our splits, what they’re seeing based on my footwork, because I feel like we can make each other better as a team.”
BIGBY, Foles talks to his teammates after snaps during practice way more than the coaches.
Marrone said he wanted a quarterback that would be ahead of everyone else when he spoke at February’s NFL Scouting Combine. Foles has that command. He’s in constant communication with his receivers after the snap. Bortles would have moments of uncertainty in almost every practice.
“We were able to talk about different things because we’ve played together through the spring, so we understand each other a little bit more,” Foles said. “So, we’re able to talk about the ins and the outs of route running and what I’m thinking.”
BIGBY, the starting secondary isn’t as active around the ball as it was in previous years.
Foles isn’t getting fooled and is operating at an efficient level against the first-team defense. There hasn’t been an instance of Foles throwing into double coverage.
“I’ve been impressed with Nick,” Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “He’s making us better. He’s making us kind of be on our [game] a little bit sooner than we had previously had to, and that’s good.”
Of course, Jalen doesn’t need BIGBY. But, it’s all yours if you want it.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)