"I feel very strongly about Chad."
With those six words, Gus Bradley has all but named Chad Henne as the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars as they head into their Week 3 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. Blake Bortles' first start will undoubtedly have to wait at least one more week.
And as frustrated as I am that our home opener will be led by Henne, I can't blame him. How could I? Henne is who we thought he was. (Or a more frightening option... he's worse.) He's certainly to blame for some of Jacksonville's woes through the first two weeks.
But he's not the one keeping himself in the game. He's not the one making the final decision week in and week out that Bortles will once again ride the bench.
That's on Gus.
During Monday's press conference, the local media grilled Bradley about starting Henne and sitting Bortles. And Bradley looked tired. Deflated. He looked like he didn't have any answers. He gave the kinds of answers he always does...
"We did some good things."
"That's not us."
"There is accountability."
But the optimism that helped us swallow the medicine before was no longer present. With each Bradley-esque answer came more questions, harder questions. One reporter even posited that the players he and his staff had brought in didn't have enough talent. Twice.
Before the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, I was asked what Bradley's greatest weakness was. In the face of a lot of strengths -- his leadership, his enthusiasm, his optimism -- there had to be weaknesses. Admittedly, I was caught off-guard. I had never even thought of what Bradley's weaknesses could be. And it actually caused me some anxiety.
But after thinking about it, I offered the only answer I could think of: Gus Bradley's youth and inexperience as an NFL head coach. Bradley is a gifted leader, but I was curious as to why Bortles was still sitting after a superb preseason. I'm still curious, actually. Is it misplaced loyalty? Stubbornness? Naivety? Fear? I don't know, and we may not ever know. We certainly won't until Bortles is entrenched as the starter.
Make no mistake, Gus Bradley isn't even close to being on the hot seat. But his reticence to begin turning the wheels of change towards Blake Bortles is unsettling... and there's nothing Chad Henne can do about that.