The Jacksonville Jaguars were officially officially eliminated from the 2016 NFL playoffs with Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos, moving them to 2-10 on the season. That means the team isn’t playing for anything for the remainder of the season other than… pride I guess? Sure. Anyway, the final four games can be used as a tool to further evaluate players for next season. Whoever the general manager is, likely still David Caldwell, will have to make some tough decisions on multiple players.
One burning question I’ve gotten a lot lately, especially since Sunday’s loss, is should the Jaguars bench quarterback Blake Bortles. The short answer is “probably” but the real answer is a bit more complicated than that.
I was honestly surprised Bortles didn’t get benched at halftime for Chad Henne in the blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans. Once he wasn’t however, I kind of figured he wouldn’t be sat down at all, even though he probably needs to be. We’ve talked about Bortles struggles a lot and I’m still of the firm belief that continuing to play him is doing more harm than good, as I feel he’s overcorrecting his issues and just exacerbating the problems. Shutting him down and letting him re-focus will likely do more good than harm, but the quarterback is a unique position in sports and you have to be careful how and why you sit guys down.
I’m sure a lot of you have come to the conclusion that Bortles sucks anyway and is a lost cause, which is certainly reasonable, but the Jaguars aren’t and probably shouldn’t think about it that way. He was a No. 3 overall pick and had a very good season in 2015, which was not just “garbage time” as people have written it off. You don’t just accident into 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns in the NFL, so Caldwell is going to want to get blood from a turnip with his former first round pick. Personally, I don’t think Bortles is the kind of guy who’s going to just spiral out of control at this point in the season if you bench him and be completely shot and in fact he might welcome a break, so he can just simply relax and reset himself.
The big question however is who do you bench Blake Bortles for? I’ve seen a lot of people pound the table for Chad Henne, saying things like the Jaguars would be 6-6 with him or something else crazy. We all know that isn’t true and it seems people have forgotten how bad Chad Henne is. He’s just as inaccurate as Bortles is, he throws interceptions at the same rate, he has significantly more passes batted at the line and he doesn’t come close to bringing the mobility that Bortles has, which has been an asset in games this season. You know what Chad Henne is, a bad quarterback, and at 2-10 there is absolutely no reason to trot him out as the starting quarterback. He’s not going to develop further and winning games don’t do much but put lipstick on a pig.
If the Jaguars are going to bench Bortles, which I still don’t believe they will, it would need to be for rookie quarterback Brandon Allen. With Allen, you actually can game something by playing him. You can get a good look at what he can bring to the table, albeit as a late round rookie draft pick. Losing at this point doesn’t really matter, but long term you gain more from playing Allen than you would with Henne. Personally, I don’t view Allen as anything more than a long term backup quarterback in the NFL, but there’s never been a better time to find some things out about him.
If you’re clamoring for Blake Bortles to be benched, it shouldn’t be for Chad Henne. It should be for Brandon Allen.