Blake Bortles has been the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting quarterback for the past three seasons. However, new head coach Doug Marrone announced that Bortles and presumed backup Chad Henne are now in a quarterback competition.
Marrone appeared frustrated after his team lost to Tampa Bay 12-8 in a preseason game.
“I’m looking for someone that’s going to lead this offense,” said Marrone. “I’m not happy with the performance today. I’m not going to sit here and B.S. anyone. Everyone saw it out there. Whatever you want to call it, I’m still trying to evaluate who the best person is at that position.”
Bortles and Henne will now share first-team reps until Marrone can decide on a starter. Henne was Jacksonville’s starter in 2013, before Bortles was drafted third overall in the 2014 NFL draft.
Henne began the 2014 campaign as the first-team QB, but was replaced by Bortles four games into the season. The latter hasn’t looked back since then.
Bortles Struggled to Move the Chains
He was an uninspiring 8-for-13 for 65 yards in four drives against the Buccaneers. All four drives ended in punts, and Bortles was also sacked once. He was just 2-for-5 passing in the team’s first preseason contest.
Henne took some snaps with the first team against Tampa Bay. The 10-year veteran threw two first-half passes, both of which were dropped in the end zone. He came back out with the first team in the second half and went 6-for-10 for 44 yards during two drives.
Marrone wasn’t Happy with the Entire Offense
Marrone spoke with ESPN about his team’s lack of success on the offensive end. And he felt that this was a problem with the entire team, not just Bortles.
Nevertheless, it looks like he’s trying to find a spark with Henne. The latter has only worked with the second-team offense throughout the preseason. It’s only lately that he’s begun getting some work with the first team.
“I always took it as I’m always competing and never really said I’m the backup, even though that’s the way it was,” Henne explained. “I still study hard and try to prove in practice what I can do. All I can do is to try to get myself better prepared each week.”
Bortles is Accepting the Challenge
The good news is that Bortles doesn’t seem dejected by the open competition. Instead, he’s look at this as a challenge to earn the respect of his teammates.
“I don’t think anything changes from my mindset or anything there. I think it’s my job to go out there and earn the respect and trust of those guys as well as the coaching staff, and that’s what I’m kind of on a mission to do.”
It’s a good thing that the former University of Central Florida star aims to earn his teammates’ respect. After all, he has some work to do in order to become a great quarterback.
His training camp has been up and down so far. This includes a 5-interception practice on the first day with full pads.
Bortles also leads the league in turnovers (63) over the past three years, and has the second-most interceptions (51). Making matters worse is that he’s won just 11 games as a starter in 44 tries.
Jacksonville will Rely on the Running Game
Sure, the Jaguars would love to have an elite quarterback. But Marrone’s offense will take an old-school approach that involves focusing on the running game above all.
This is why they drafted LSU’s Leonard Fournette with the fourth-overall pick in the 2017 Draft. They also have T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, and DeJuan Harris on the roster right now. But Fournette is the key because he’s built for power at 6’0″, 230 pounds, yet still has solid speed (4.5 forty).
Last Chance for Bortles
Jacksonville picked up Bortles’ fifth-year option for 2018. But this in no way binds them to anything because the option is only guaranteed in the event of an injury.
Assuming he doesn’t show anything this year, then Jacksonville can cut ties with Bortles in the offseason. The downside is that they don’t have anybody waiting in the wings. But chances are that they’ll probably draft a QB within the first or second round if things don’t pan out.
Jaguars 2017 Odds
Our current GTBets odds have the Jacksonville Jaguars futures as follows:
- Odds to win Super Bowl: Jacksonville +8000
- Odds to win AFC: Jacksonville +4000
- Odds to win AFC South: Jacksonville +700
The Jaguars open the regular season at Houston on September 7. And we have them at +3.5 against the Texans.
The first game could tell a lot about how Jacksonville will fare this season. It’ll also give us more info on how the chosen starter performs.
Chances are that Bortles will be starting the first regular season contest. But there are no guarantees in an open QB competition.