Well, if you've seen the Jaguars play this preseason you understand this one fact: Bortles is the team's best quarterback. Not the best for the future or for 2015 or even for Week 8. Right now.
This preseason, Bortles has shown off every physical skill that caused the Jaguars to take him with the third pick of the draft. He has a fantastic arm, great size and moves well. His touchdown throw against the Lions on Friday night, a 13-yarder to Allen Hurns, was a major-league fastball. He was 10-of-16 for 158 yards against Detroit. Even if you were skeptical of Bortles coming in, you have to admit he definitely passes the eye test. He has looked really good.
This wasn't the plan. The Jaguars were probably thinking that Bortles, who was considered pretty raw coming out of Central Florida, would need some time and that would show in the preseason. Chad Henne could be a fine placeholder at quarterback this year (and, really, he hasn't been all that bad). But Bortles has probably exceeded what even the Jaguars coaches were expecting.
Last week, after Bortles played well against Chicago, the Jaguars stood firm that there was no quarterback controversy or competition (you can read Shutdown Corner's dispatch from Eric Edholm here). After Friday's game, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley reiterated that Henne will start Week 1, via the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran:
Gus says Henne week 1 starter.— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) August 23, 2014
At some point, everyone knows. The fans know. The veterans know. The coaches have to know, too. Bortles is their best option.
When Johnny Manziel was officially benched to start the season this week, we talked about the fallacy that rookie quarterbacks are better off sitting and learning. That hasn't been true for a few years now. None of the first-round quarterbacks from the last six seasons who haven't started Week 1 have established themselves as good NFL quarterbacks. We've seen many rookie quarterbacks the past few years start Week 1 and go on to become stars.
Bortles fits in the group that looks ready to start in Week 1. He clearly gives the Jaguars a better chance to win right now. There's no evidence anymore that he'd be better off in his development if he sat and learned.
So what's the holdup?
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