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Blake Bortles confident he can rebound after Jaguars quarterback ‘competition’

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-Training Camp Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars named Blake Bortles the starting quarterback to open the season against the Houston Texans Week 1 of the regular season. The move was a bit of a surprise, but Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone alluded to the poor play of the offensive line as a factor into his decision to go with the more mobile quarterback.

Regardless of the reason however, Bortles believes that he’s ready to put the competition and his preseason struggles behind him now that he’s secured the starting job.

“One hundred percent,” Bortles said on Saturday when asked about being able to put everything behind him. “It was something that hasn’t happened, you try not to think about it; obviously it’s hard to do, but you move on and want to carry on with your day and go through and focus on what you can control and I think that’s the same thing. It kind of just shifts a little to ‘now you’re starting, as of now, so go do everything in your power to keep it that way.’”

Bortles’ grip on the starting job at this point seems tenuous at best, but playing well can tighten that grip and keep him on the field. From everything we’ve heard from both executive VP Tom Coughlin and Marrone this offseason, turnovers aren’t going to be tolerated and is something Bortles still needs to work on. The leash is not going to be very long in 2017, nor should it be.

We don’t yet know if Bortles will play on Thursday in the Jaguars’ preseason finale, but seeing as he’s the Week 1 starter and he played until late in the fourth quarter last week, I’d be surprised if he played against the Atlanta Falcons. So what we saw from Bortles in the first three weeks is all we really have to go on until the regular season starts.

It sounds like since being named the starter Bortles has been just fine in practice.

“Good, good. I mean, I’m happy. I’ve seen him build on his last performance,” Marrone said after Monday’s practice. “ I’ve seen him, I don’t know the right word. The footwork is better. It’s relaxed. I’m hoping to see that carry over because he’s actually done quite well.”

The cynic in me rolls my eyes, because of course Bortles looks markedly better in a closed practice after “winning” a quarterback “competition”, but I’d rather the head coach say that than say he’s still struggling. I personally just can’t believe it until I see it on the field, but again it’s better he says that than the alternative even if I don’t believe it.

For the Jaguars to have any kind of success in 2017 and for Bortles to have any hope of being a starting quarterback beyond this season, the Jaguars are going to need two things to flip the switch early in the season: The running game has to come alive and whoever is at quarterback needs to play efficient, turnover free football.