The Jacksonville Jaguars have spent the past few years as one of the NFL’s great “yeah, but…” teams, as in “yeah, they’re great, but they’ve got Blake Bortles at quarterback.” As of Sunday, that’s not the case.
Following Bortles’ second fumble of the game against Houston, a miscue that gave the Texans an easy touchdown for a 20-0 lead, the Jaguars benched Bortles and brought in backup Cody Kessler. Bortles had completed six of 12 passes for 61 yards and, obviously, no touchdowns. On the year, Bortles has nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and five fumbles as the Jaguars have struggled. Kessler finished 21 of 30 for 156 yards with one touchdown and an interception in a 20-7 loss that dropped Jacksonville to 3-4.
After the game, which ended up a 20-7 Jags loss, Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone offered up his thoughts on why he benched Bortles: “Thought process was you can take all 11 out, [but then] you don’t have enough people to put in. Thought process: ‘Hey listen, I’m going to take the quarterback out.’ Not like he had he played worse anyone out there. He had two fumbles. I just literally did it to try and get a damn spark from this football team to put everyone on notice. They have to focus and go out there and play better. At points in second half they did it. That’s not fair to the QB, but that’s how the business is.”
Bortles, for his part, said he had “no idea” if he’d be starting next week. “I’ll do the same thing I’ve always done — show up, work, prepare and get ready to go and work as hard as I can,” Bortles said after the game. “If I play, I play. If not, then I’ll do whatever I can to help this team.”
The Jaguars have gone from Super Bowl hopeful to afterthought, and Bortles has been a significant reason for the decline. It’ll be fascinating to see if this team gets its swagger back with Bortles on the sideline.
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