Calais Campbell can’t help but think Jacksonville’s upcoming season will depend heavily on one player’s performance: new quarterback Nick Foles.
The veteran defensive end didn’t shy away from discussing his team’s terrible campaign in 2018 as the Jaguars finished 5-11 for last in the AFC South just one year after making it to the AFC championship.
“First things first, last year sucked,” Campbell told NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on Wednesday. “Our youth really showed. Once we started losing guys, having some injuries, having some real adversity, we really didn’t handle it well. And that’s youth. Experience really pays dividends in a situation there.”
But the Jaguars added Foles on a four-year deal worth $88 million in March after parting ways with Blake Bortles. They padded their defense by selecting Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen in the first round of last month’s draft.
“The thing I love about this year is it really comes down to Nick Foles,” Campbell said. “He’s a guy who’s over 30, has a lot of experience, won a Super Bowl MVP, but really what he brings is that confidence. He’s a natural leader. When he breaks the team huddle at the end of practice, you can see guys really hear him and that’s so important. Obviously what he can do throwing the ball is great, but what he does for the actual overall team, giving us more confidence and belief.”
Foles, 30, threw for 1,413 yards and seven touchdowns in five games for Philadelphia last season. He replaced an injured Carson Wentz for the team’s postseason run, where the Eagles topped the Bears in the wild-card round before falling to the Saints.
Foles also filled in for an injured Wentz in 2017 and led Philadelphia through the playoffs and to a Super Bowl 52 victory over the Patriots.