The sports dead zone has nearly abated. After a super boring Super Bowl—which included a snoozer of a halftime show—followed by weeks of inconsequential NBA games, March Madness has begun. But, most importantly there are football-related sports things to discuss. Hooray!
Duval, specifically, has had much to talk about. Although, really and truly, those conversations have revolved around two moves made by Jaguars brass to open the always interesting free agency window: the signing of former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and the release of former 3rd overall pick, perennial lightning rod, and, yes, the BOAT, Blake Bortles.
And questions abound! Is Foles an upgrade? What is Bortles’ legacy in Jax? And will he finally fall back on his plan to “rip cigs” and work “construction” ? (The latter will have to wait, as Bortles just signed a one year deal with the Los Angeles Rams).
To gain some clarity on these questions and more, I rang up local sports media personality and host of the GuysGirl Podcast, Blythe Brumleve for a wide ranging sportsball discussion!
Void Mag: The story of the Jags offseason so for is really the story of two big moves. Signing Foles and cutting Bortles. Let’s mourn the loss of the BOAT, at least briefly. What’s Bortles’ legacy in Jacksonville? What will you remember him for?
Blythe Brumleve: Bortles has and always will be the guy who fans cheered for on Sundays and one who fans wanted to grab a beer with every other day of the week. A lot of fans, including myself, thought after the 2016 season, it was time to part ways and draft a QB high. But in 2017 and the magical run to the AFC Championship game, many of those same fans—raises hand—thought he had legitimately figured it out. He was securing the ball, not creating turnovers, making plays with his legs and going toe-to-toe with future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger in the playoffs. So when the disaster of the 2018 season happened, it ended any potential future Bortles had with this franchise who frankly gave him more than enough time to put it all together.
To his credit, Bortles took all the criticism, never dodged an interview and never blamed anyone else but himself. Fans wanted him to succeed but in the NFL you have to consistently improve at the most important position in all of sports or else you gotta go. Bortles couldn’t prove it and it was time to move on.
Bortles was a polarizing figure. But he had an everyman quality, best exemplified by his once saying in an interview that if he weren’t an NFL quarterback he’d be “Ripping cigs and working construction.” So we’re clear on what we’re getting: What would Nick Foles be doing if he weren’t an NFL quarterback?
There’s a running joke among Jaguars Twitter that Foles looks like he’d be a youth pastor, and as funny as that sounds, I imagine Foles would be more involved in the restaurant industry. His father Larry co-founded one of Texas’ more successful restaurants in Eddie V’s. But Larry didn’t come from money. He started out as an assistant manager at Shoney’s, rose through the ranks, eventually owning several restaurant concepts in cities all over the United States. If Nick is anything like his dad, he’ll continue to fight with an underdog mentality which could be perfect for this Jaguars team.
That’s good insight! I didn’t know that about Foles. Bottom line, though: this is an upgrade at, arguably, the most important position, right? What are the Jags likely to get from Foles on the field that Bortles didn’t offer?
The ability to throw a receiver open and make quick decisions from the pocket without the turnover jitters getting into his head. Also avoiding getting a million balls batted down at the line of scrimmage or interceptions thrown off helmets and feet.
Ouch. Those are moments those of us who liked Bortles loved to forget. Alright, so an improvement. But I know the Jags front office is taking some heat for the amount of money they paid. Is Foles worth it?
If he wins Duval a Super Bowl, it’ll all be worth it.
In the NFL you have to seize your window of opportunity, aggressively. This front office with GM Dave Caldwell, VP of Football Ops Tom Coughlin, and coach Doug Marrone have been intact for more than a few years and while owner Shad Khan has proven to be patient, I believe the future of the Big Three is reliant on how this group of players perform. They don’t have time to wait on a rookie QB to develop. They need to win now before the talent on defense requires big contracts that we simply can’t afford with the way the roster is currently structured.
Therefore, it’s win now or we’re facing another lengthy rebuild.
What are the risks with Foles? Obviously the Eagles must have had some reservations about him, despite his leading them on two improbable playoff runs.
The Eagles didn’t want to get rid of Foles. But ultimately they believe they have a better QB on the roster with Carson Wentz. He was the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft and did some amazing things in his rookie season. But the injury bug has bit him resulting in Nick starting the majority of the meaningful games over the past two seasons–including the Eagles first Superbowl back in 2017 where he’d earn MVP honors. The Eagles simply have too much invested in Wentz to also invest in Foles as a backup QB. Voiding his contract and pursuing free agency was the best move for Foles but he won’t have the level of offensive talent he had up in Philly. Jax will have to secure those pieces around him and secure them quick.
Where do the Jags go from here? What moves are they likely to make to complement the Foles signing?
They’ve made a couple moves on the offensive side of the ball with the signings of WR Chris Conley and TE Geoff Swaim. Both signed cap-friendly contracts and have huge upside potential now that we have a QB who can actually throw a spiral. (Can you tell the QB bar is set low in Jacksonville?)
Jags also have promising receivers in D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook coming back next season along with Marqise Lee. It should be an entertaining preseason to see which of these receivers can gel the fastest with Foles to earn those starting roles.
And, lastly, what would you be doing if you weren’t working in sports media?
The 2018 season took a mental drain on me where it actually forced me to spend less time in the sports media world. Back in December I decided to take a step back from local radio and focus more on my growing company Brumleve Brands–which is paying off well enough to the point where I can enjoy football again from a fan’s perspective. I won’t quit sports media fully though! I plan on tackling more coverage for all things Jaguars with the Void fam as well as on my personal podcast which you can find on GuysGirl.com.
If I wasn’t doing any of these things, I would absolutely study to become a marine biologist or archaeologist.
OK, so no cigs or construction. Fair enough. Thanks, Blythe! I feel encouraged. Go sports!