I’ll keep this short and sweet: The Jaguars have a quarterback problem.
Although it has been both in the forecast, as well as denied, by a split fan base for some time, the team has acknowledged the sticky situation by opening up a quarterback competition. Blake Bortles, the incumbent starter heading into the year, has already lost his job security just after Week 2 of the preseason, and head coach Doug Marrone has opened the position battle up to both Chad Henne and Brandon Allen to dethrone Bortles.
Although Allen is seemingly included in the competition, it truly seems to be Bortles and Henne who are fighting for the starting gig. However, ruling Allen out would be a dumb move by the organization, as he has flashed potential during the preseason. he needs to play lights out in the chances he has going forward in order to make is ripple.
With that, let’s go over every pass from all three quarterbacks from last Thursday night’s game against the Buccaneers, and see what each QB can offer going forward.
Box score: 8/13, 65 yards, 5 Y/A, 0:0 TD:INT
Before we get into breaking down each of Bortles’ throws, ESPN compared Bortles’ throwing motion from Thursday night to last season. While the motion is less dragged out, it still isn’t clean. His elbow should never be above the ball, and the elongated motion messes with his weight distribution and balance while throwing the ball:
So, if anyone wants to know how much better Bortles’ mechanics are this year, show them this GIF.
This was Bortles’ first throw of the night, and his elongated throwing motion was already on display. The pass was completed for a short gain, but if Bortles’ motion was trimmed down, causing his release to be quicker, Robinson may have had a better chance to turn up field.
In training camp, Bortles was relatively consistent in completing short, quick passes like this one above. even though his motion is a problem, this pass was fine.
Although Bortles’ elbow was yet again above the ball during his toss, this was a good play on his part. He was able to accurately complete the short pass without setting his feet, and move the chains.
This was a dumb “throw” from Bortles. As mistake prone as he has proven to be in the past, the last thing he should be doing is just flinging the ball away in trying to prevent a sack, even though Yeldon caught the pass. Just go down with the ball and prevent a potential turnover.
On this play, Bortles threw his first of several deep passes on the night. It was his best deep ball of the entire game, although it was a bit of an overthrow. While it could have been a better pass, it also could have been worse (it gets worse later on).
Staring down a receiver during the entire play is never an ideal strategy. From the snap through the release, Bortles had his eyes locked on Marcedes Lewis, which the Buccaneers LB picked up on from the get-go. Bortles placed this ball a bit outside where the LB could get his hands on it, as well. Bortles had Shane Wynn open on the opposite side of the field, and if he had surveyed the field rather than locking onto Lewis, the Jaguars could have prevented a third and long situation.
Placement issues have been an issue with Bortles for quite some time now, and the lack of that skill is on full display here. In both locking down on his target in Allen Robinson running a slant, and Bortles’ throw was poor enough to make Robinson stop and adjust for a jump ball — Allen Robinson was very close to getting destroyed by the stay-at-home safety.
Again, Bortles is able to connect on a short route — A screen, in fact, something of which the team has struggled with in the past. Compared to previous screen attempts, this ball is out immediately so the receiver (in this case, Robinson) can make a move in open space.
This miserable under-throw was the most telling pass of the night. Bortles placement was just awful, and Robinson had no chance at adjusting to make a playing the ball. Personally, I believe this is an example of Bortles’ lack of confidence, as he didn’t think he could squeeze the ball to Robinson’s outside shoulder with a cover-3 free safety closing in.
One of Bortles’ more encouraging throws of the night, as he clearly scans half of the field and makes a nice check-down to Chris Ivory that goes for nearly 20 yards. This was Bortles’ longest pass of the night.
How does one describe a play like this to someone? “That’s so Jaguars”.
Bortles begins by faking a hand-off to no one, and once again embarrassingly under-throws Robinson on a post. It’s just... bad.
This wasn’t a good pass but it wasn’t necessarily horrible. It was low and away for Robinson to grab but Bortles should have placed it outside and away from the cornerback. Could have been better and ended in a completion but just not good enough.
This pass was delivered a little late, as Robinson clearly waits for the ball, but Bortles delivered an accurate pass and Robinson was able to move the chains. Not a bad play at all.
Bortles is forced to step up into the pocket from a blindside pressure and hits his check down, but in losing time from the pressure, Lewis can’t turn and run to convert the 3rd and long.
Box score: 6/10, 44 yards, 4.4 Y/A, 0:0 TD:INT
Henne’s first pass of the night was a great one... that ended in a drop. Henne released this ball right out of his back drop and placed it perfectly after Keelan Cole beat Vernon Hargreaves in man coverage. If Cole doesn’t drop this pass, the outcome of the game is totally different.
Henne came out firing on his first two passes of the game, targeting Robinson on a skinny post here. Robinson should have caught this as well as Henne squeezed the ball through a tight window, but this was a very testy throw on Henne’s part with Robinson being double-covered.
Reading the defense and scanning the field is something Bortles has struggled with for a while, whereas Henne has no issue with it. He begins reading the right side and is able to quickly turn and release the ball to Cole near the numbers on the opposite side of the field.
The clear advantage Henne has over Bortles is his quick release, even if he lacks consistent down-field accuracy. His quick release can be seen here as soon as Shane Wynn finds an opening in the middle of the field. A third down conversion!
Right out of his backdrop, Henne releases his pass before Cole even finishes his route, and gives Cole time to make a move and get down field. Although Henne isn’t an exciting QB by any means, he’s hitting on all of the throws that this team wants the QB to hit: Short/middle of the field throws with a quick release.
Now, this is the Chad Henne we all remember from 2012-2014, making a bad checkdown because he can’t avoid pressure with his feet. Ivory gets gobbled up for a three-yard loss.
While facing pressure, Henne is able to make a one-step release to an open Marcedes Lewis, who then makes a nice move and is able to convert a first down. Again, Henne’s quick, accurate release is exhibited — This is exactly what the Jaguars want out of a quarterback in their run-heavy scheme when targeting the short field. I’m not saying Henne is the answer by any means, because he lacks ability to run play action well, but in terms of making short, quick throws, Henne can do it.
Henne opens this play up looking down the middle, and quickly looks to Robinson and releases his ball for an easy first down conversion.
Henne’s last throw of the game is a bad overthrow. While he excelled in completing short, quick passes during the game, Henne throws this deep pass both too far and inside to Robinson.
Box score: 10/15, 144 yards, 9.6 Y/A, 1:0 TD:INT
Allen starts his game off strong, completing a quick post to Dede Westbrook in a decent amount of space. Giving Westbrook even the smallest amount of space will end in a good result, as Westbrook specializes in yards after the catch, so this was good execution on Allen’s part.
Unlike Henne, Allen is a mobile quarterback who can make throws on the run. This shotgun, play action play-call isn’t a play you’d ever see Chad Henne run, because it doesn’t match his skill-set. Allen hit an open Westbrook on a 25 yard toss (including how far behind the line of scrimmage Allen is) without ever setting his feet.
Allen knew from the snap that he wanted to target Greene in the flats, but doesn’t make that clear until he begins his release. He placed this ball far and away from the defender and put the team inside of the 5 yard line.
This might be my favorite play from the entire game, if not ever. The fullback is back in JAX!
Allen is able to avoid pressure on the play action bootleg and Williams is able to separate just enough near the goal-line for Allen to hit him for a touchdown.
Allen fails to find an down-field option with a relatively clean pocket, so he hits his checkdown Jonathan Grimes, who turns a potential no-gain into a four yard play.
Although this pass ended in a 20+ yard gain, Allen needs to place this ball better. if he leads Westbrook and places the pass a bit more inside, Westbrook takes this pass to the end-zone. Don’t get me wrong, a long gain is a long gain, but touchdowns are better (obviously).
Allen connects with Westbrook yet again, this time on a quick out route. Westbrook turns on his wheels after breaking a tackle at the sticks, and turns a quick first down conversion into a 25+ yard gain.
This play design was what the Jaguars ideally want to specialize with on third downs, completing short passes to move the chains and follow with running the ball on first down. Allen, like Henne, has a quick, powerful release, and he hits an open Westbrook for a first down near the 10 yard line.
If Greene comes down with this ball, the Jaguars get a fresh set of downs at the one yard line. If Allen had surveyed for other options, he may have had a touchdown opportunity, but this ball was put where it needed to be -- Greene just needed to catch it.
This fade pass from Allen was a fine throw that Westbrook nearly came down with, but the cornerback made a nice play from behind and the ball was knocked out when Westbrook fell to the ground. Nothing you can do about that.
Why was Rashad Greene (6-0) running a fade route? I’m not sure, as he isn’t a jump-ball type of receiver. But Allen needed to adjust to who he was throwing to and instead he put his ball where a receiver like Allen Robinson (6-3, jump-ball WR) would want it placed. Instead, this ball is slightly out of bounds when Greene gets his hands on it.
Allen made a dangerous throw into near-triple coverage with an incredibly tight window closing on Westbrook, but he squeezes the ball through to Westbrook, and the Jaguars flip from their 35 yard line to the Buccaneers’ 35 yard line.
Like Bortles’ dump off earlier in the game when facing a sack, Allen needs to just go down with this ball rather than try to throw it to a nearby receiver. This was nearly a fumble that Tampa Bay would have recovered.
This play ended with two seconds left on the game clock. Rather than hitting a checkdown behind the LOS, why not try to target a receiver deep and in-stride? The slot WR (Greene?) had an opening in the seam from the 15 yard line in. Make the safety bite on a pump fake to the checkdown early on and hit Greene in the end-zone to end the game. This is where Allen needs to grow on his decision making.
Not much to breakdown here. the game clock hit zero while Allen rolled out and he just let one rip.
Who looked like the best QB?
While Blake Bortles clearly displayed his issues against the Buccaneers, Chad Henne and Brandon Allen both flashed the ability to make smart decisions with the ball. Henne didn’t provide as much spark as Allen, but he hit on all of the throws the team is looking to hit on. Henne is likely the safest player to start at quarterback going forward based on this game alone, but Allen more than deserves a shot to compete as well.