Jaguars counting on Hyde to recapture identity, help Bortles
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are counting on newcomer Carlos Hyde to help veteran Blake Bortles.
The Jaguars (3-4) believe Hyde’s physical running style will pay immediate dividends, especially for their embattled quarterback.
“People are brought here or drafted and developed here to play a certain type of football,” coach Doug Marrone said. “Not to say that we can’t play any other way, but that’s what we have worked on. If we can play to the identity that we want to play, then we feel that will help us become a better team and start winning some games.”
Jacksonville acquired Hyde from Cleveland last week in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick and expects the Browns’ leading rusher to play a significant role against Philadelphia (3-4) in London.
Bortles could be the beneficiary.
The fifth-year pro has really struggled the last three weeks, turning the ball over eight times and throwing just two touchdown passes. He fumbled twice in last week’s 20-7 loss to Houston , leading to 10 points and his benching. Cody Kessler finished the game, but was sacked four times in five drives, fumbled once and threw an interception.
Marrone opened up the quarterback job following the game, but decided less than 24 hours later to stick with Bortles .
The coach made it clear that he doesn’t see Bortles as the only problem. Injuries have been the main culprit, with Jacksonville down two left tackles, two tight ends, two running backs and receiver. Receivers also have dropped passes, and the offensive line has been shaky at best.
The entire offense was built around Leonard Fournette, a physical runner who sets the tone and takes pressure off Bortles and the passing attack. Without him, the Jaguars have looked lost on that side of the ball.
Hyde should help.
“I run angry, downhill, smash-mouth football,” said Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and five touchdowns this season. “That’s been my game ever since I started playing this game, so I think I’ll fit in perfect here.”
The Jaguars are counting on it.
“You can never replace a guy like Fournette, but if there’s anybody who can do so, you look at a guy like him,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “You talk about a physical, angry, downhill runner. He leaves the games and you look up and he had 85 (yards) on a day, a physical, tough 85. That’s the type of mentality that you want to bring. That’s what helps this offense thrive.
“I don’t know what can happen and what spark he may bring, but I’m hoping it’s a spark that we need. Obviously, this team can definitely use a spark. I hope they give him the ball many, many times. I had to tackle him, so good luck to the guys in Philly that got to tackle him.”
The Jaguars pushed Bortles’ weekly media session to Friday in London, where he gets his first chance to talk about regaining the starting job for the second time in 14 months. Marrone also benched Bortles during the 2017 preseason, only to name him the starter nine days later.
Fournette and the ground game was a big key to Bortles’ success last season, especially in the postseason.
The Jags hope Hyde will have the same effect on him.
“I believe in him, I always have,” team captain and defensive end Calais Campbell said. “He’s earned that right. I know as of late he hasn’t been playing as good as he could, but earlier this year he was playing some really good ball. I see it in him all the time.
“He’s hot and cold like anybody else. Hopefully we can get him on a hot streak here and turn this corner. When he’s doing it well, it’s nice to watch and nice to see and he sparks the whole team; the defense feeds off it.”