The Jacksonville Jaguars have a plan for when to start rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, but with his performances through two games in the preseason, those plans should probably be amended. Bortles followed up his impressive preseason debut with another impressive showing against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night on national television.
Bortles left the game completing 11-of-17 passes for 160 yards, but some of his most impressive plays didn't even show up on the stat sheet. On one particular play, Bortles rolled out to his right backed up in the end zone and rifled a throw to Kerry Taylor on the sideline who couldn't keep his feet in bounds. It was a throw I don't think I've ever seen a quarterback make in a Jaguars uniform.
The original plan was to go with veteran Chad Henne to start the 2014 season, who to his credit had a pretty good game against the Bears after a poor game in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Henne finished his day going 12-for-17 for 130 yards with a touchdown pass to Marqise Lee in the second quarter.
It was essentially the best of Chad Henne on Friday night, which is one of the reasons the Jaguars should be reconsidering their plans for the quarterback position. On a night Henne looked relatively good, Bortles looked better. Not to mention Henne's performance on the stat sheet didn't necessarily match his actual play on the field. He still had drives stalled in the redzone, he still checked down quickly on third and long and he still missed badly on throws outside the hash marks.
Chad Henne is Chad Henne and that's what he's going to be.
The problem is it's Chad Henne and through his six-year NFL career, he's never been able to hold that up consistently. You can't point to last night with Henne and expect to get that out of him week-to-week, hell even quarter-to-quarter.
When you watch both quarterbacks play, there is one big thing that has consistently stood out to me. You remember Chad Henne's incomplete passes, because he's usually missing badly. Someone will be running wide open and he just can't get the football there accurately for whatever reason. With Bortles, outside of bad drops, I can't remember why his passes are incomplete. Call it confirmation bias if you want to, but it's something that continues to stick out to me.
With the Jaguars headed to Detroit to take on the Lions for their third preseason game next week, Gus Bradley and staff should and likely will, give Bortles time with the first team to see where he's at. So far people have been able to add the caveat "but it's against second and third team," with Bortles' performances.
If Bortles can do it against the first team, then it's time.
It's time to pop the Bortles.