Jaguars Odds: Bortles and Henne Now in Quarterback Battle

blake-bortles-chad-henne-competitionBlake 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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville JaguarsMany see this as a make-or-break season for the fourth-year man. And Bortles hasn’t started this season on the right foot.

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.

doug-marrone-jaguarsNevertheless, 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.

blake-bortles-jacksonville“I’ll approach it the same way. I’ll approach tomorrow as I treated yesterday and as I treated today,” he said.

“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

leonard-fournette-jaguarsMany are wondering why Jacksonville didn’t bring in another QB to compete with Bortles and Henne this offseason. And the reason why is because they’re not overly focused on the passing 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.

2016 AFC South Betting Preview

andrew-luck-playoffsLast season, the Indianapolis Colts were overwhelming favorites to win the weakest division in football. But injuries to Andrew Luck, coupled with his ineffective early season play, saw the Colts stumble to an 8-8 record.

The Houston Texans took full advantage of these struggles by putting together a 9-7 season and winning the division.

The Jacksonville Jaguars showed some improvement, especially on offense, which powered them to a 5-11 record – far better than anybody expected.

The Tennessee Titans are in full-on rebuilding mode after a tough 3-13 season. Will they improve in 2016? And who will win the division?

Let’s answer these questions by discussing the AFC South and looking at each team’s betting odds.

AFC South Betting Odds to Win Division (from GTBets)

Houston +200
Indianapolis +135
Jacksonville +300
Tennessee +800

1. Indianapolis Colts: Projected Record 10-6

After an outstanding campaign in 2014 that elevated him to the status of elite quarterbacks, Andrew Luck took a step back last season amid injuries and inconsistency. But he’s now had an entire offseason to heal and should return to his 2014 form, rather than what we saw last year.

ty-hilton-touchdownThis team faces questions on both the offensive and defensive line, but Luck is a rare talent that can still carry a mediocre team. In fact, just two years ago they were within one victory of the Super Bowl.

T.Y. Hilton will certainly be glad to have Luck back. Although turning in a solid season with 1,124 receiving yards and 5 TDs, Hilton has the potential for more with a quarterback who can throw deep.

The defense returns some solid pieces like D’Qwell Jackson, Vontae Davis, T.J. Green, and the ageless Robert Mathis. But the front seven has some holes and a lack of quality depth that leave questions about this unit.

This looks like a case of the Colts going as far as Luck can take them. If the offensive line provides enough protection, then Indianapolis should win the division.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Projected Record 7-9

It’s hard to call a 5-11 season a breakthrough, but Jacksonville definitely exceeded expectations while showcasing an explosive offense. But the time for promise and potential have passed for this team since Gus Bradley, now in his fourth year, needs to produce some wins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville JaguarsBlake Bortles had his best season, throwing for 4,428 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. Allen Robinson was the beneficiary of Bortles’ improvement, tallying 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Allen Hurns also had a strong season with 1,031 receiving yards and 10 TDs.

The big challenge for Jacksonville will be replicating the same success on the other side of the ball. They have young players with potential in Dante Fowler, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. But will this potential turn into stops in 2016?

We think that this will be another learning year for the young Jaguars, and one that should result in more victories than the 2015 campaign.

3. Houston Texans: Projected Record 7-9

After a 2-5 start and massive quarterback issues, most people wrote the Houston Texans off. But they put together an impressive 7-2 run to close out the season and win the South. However, things didn’t go too well for them after they were dominated 30-0 by the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round.

Bryan Hoyer – one of four quarterbacks to start for Houston – threw four interceptions in this game and convinced the Texans that they needed to upgrade the position. The result was signing Brock Osweiler to a 4-year, $72-million deal in hopes that the former Broncos QB can shore up the position.

deandre-hopkins-texansIt’s unclear if Osweiler is truly the long-term answer at the position, despite the money that Houston threw at him. But he at least has All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins to help him along the way. Houston also drafted receivers Braxton Miller and Will Fuller, in addition to signing RB Lamar Miller in free agency.

Despite the offseason moves, the defense will no doubt anchor this team thanks to star defensive end J.J. Watt. The only problem is that Watt has missed the preseason following offseason back surgery. This means that players like Vince Wilfork, Brian Cushing, and Jadeveon Clowney need to step up in the early part of the season.

While Houston has made upgrades to improve their team, we don’t know if Osweiler is going to be the answer under center – especially with how badly he’s played in the preseason. That said, don’t expect Houston to repeat as division champs.

4. Tennessee Titans: Projected Record 5-11

Marcus Mariota didn’t have eye-popping stats last year, with 2,818 and 19 touchdowns in 14 games. But he also showed some poise by tossing just 10 interceptions despite having few weapons to help him.

marcus-mariotaIf Mariota is to take the next step, he’ll need some help, which the Titans hope that they’ve provided by trading for RB DeMarco Murray and signing wideout Rishard Matthews. They also drafted Jake Conklin at No. 8 overall to shore up the right tackle position, and RB Derick Henry to spell Murray.

Based on the trade for Murray and the drafting of Henry, Tennessee is trying to become a running team. How this works out will be anybody’s guess since Murray has a lot to prove after a down season in Philadelphia. But the Titans have at least made some bold moves to help their anemic running game.

As for the defense, Jurrell Casey doesn’t get the attention that most D-ends do, but he was easily the Titans’ MVP last season. If Derrick Morgan can get back to the pass-rushing level that he showed up until last year, then this team could be excellent at pressuring quarterbacks.

Overall, there are still holes for this team to fill in 2016. But Tennessee should at least be a little bit better.