The Jacksonville Jaguars can’t dance around it anymore: They have a quarterback issue.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone couldn’t ignore what everyone tuning into ESPN on Thursday night could plainly see, which was Blake Bortles misfiring on passes any NFL quarterback simply has to make. He was so bad on one incompletion, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden wondered if Bortles had the yips like a golfer who has lost his swing.
After the game, Marrone declared the Jaguars’ starting quarterback job up for grabs. Chad Henne is the backup.
“It’s right up there for grabs, and either person can take it,” Marrone said, according to the Jaguars’ website. “We’ll make the best decision — again, who is the best person? It’s very simple. Who is the best person to put in that position to lead the offense?”
That’s as honest as a coach can be about his quarterback situation. The Jaguars don’t have a starting quarterback yet, 23 days before the season kicks off.
Henne came in after Bortles’ ugly performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and threw two great passes that should have been touchdowns but were dropped by his receivers. He finished 6 of 10 for 44 yards. Henne has started 53 games in his NFL career, but also has a 75.5 career passer rating.
The best argument for Henne is that he’s not Bortles. The Jaguars have assembled a pretty talented roster. They lived through Bortles’ struggles last season and went 3-13 with a team that should have been better than that. They drafted running back Leonard Fournette this year, in what seemed like an attempt to reshape their offense and make Bortles more efficient by lessening his attempts. But an NFL team needs something out of its quarterback to be successful, and Bortles’ performance on Thursday night had to set off some alarms for the Jaguars.
Jacksonville has two preseason games left, and key players don’t often play in the final one. So for the purposes of a quarterback competition, there isn’t much time left for Bortles to impress the coaching staff and lock the job up. The clock is definitely ticking.
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