To the surprise of many, the Jacksonville Jaguars named former third overall pick Blake Bortles the team’s starting quarterback for Week 1 of the regular season against the Houston Texans. Most who covered the Jaguars believed that Bortles didn’t really do enough to separate himself from backup Chad Henne to earn back the starting role after the competition was opened up, but Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone indicated there were a couple of factors beyond performance that went into the decision.
“The first thing I look at is who gives us the best chance to win in the situation we’re in,” Marrone told Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union. “I look at everything, not just the quarterback position of how we want to play and what we want to do. Blake has the ability to extend plays for us, which is going to be helpful in what we have to get done.”
Marrone also indicated that a couple of positive plays for Bortles on Thursday against the Carolina Panthers weren’t really a factor in the decision.
(Which, what on Earth actually went into the decision... and was it even a legitimate competition or just a message to Bortles?)
“It all goes into play. It really does,” Marrone said when asked if the offensive line’s play factored into the decision. “That was my point before when I mentioned everything of how we have to play and what we have to do. All of that stuff does get factored into the decision. It’s not necessarily one against the other.”
So ultimately, the Jaguars decided to go with Bortles as their starting quarterback because of the state of their current offensive line, which has struggled to open running lanes and protect the quarterbacks.
While it’s true Bortles mobility can help him get out of some pressure situations, it can also lead to more sacks by running into them trying to make a play rather than just throwing the ball away to live another down.
With the decision to go with Bortles, it’s left many to wonder just how long of a leash he will have as the team’s starting quarterback, especially if he continues to turn the ball over like he did against the Panthers on Thursday.
“The same leash I would give any other player on the team. I’ve said that, so I don’t think you give X position a longer period than you do a defensive tackle position or a corner position,” Marrone said on Saturday when asked about Bortles’ leash. “I think that we’ve set goals of what we want to get done and what we want to establish day-to-day, week-to-week, game-to-game, and I think those things have to be met. And I think if those things are not met then obviously you have to make a decision and get someone in there that gives you a better chance to win. That’s not going to change.”
Given that mobility was a factor in the decision, one would have to think part of the game plan for the Texans is to roll Bortles out and let him throw on the run, which is something he’s actually consistent at.
In six games against the Houston Texans in his career, Bortles has been sacked 24 times and has an 0-6 record.