The Jacksonville Jaguars are still in search of a quarterback who, as head coach Doug Marrone says, will “lead this offense”. Blake Bortles has gotten ample opportunities and will start in the season opener. Chad Henne wasn’t any worse than Bortles in the “open competition” last week, but he didn’t do enough to move the needle.
And then there’s Brandon Allen, a second-year quarterback out of Arkansas who didn’t get a shot last week outside of a six-play drive that ended the game.
All of this ultimately begs the question: Does it really matter how well Allen plays on Thursday? Regardless of if he plays lights out or implodes, will it have any bearing whatsoever on Marrone’s decision to cut him, keep him, or play him in the regular season?
On Monday morning, Ian Rapoport spoke about the quarterback situation and seemed to indicate that if Bortles gets pulled, the first quarterback off the bench could be Allen, not Henne. Rapoport went further to say that Allen has support of some people in the building.
All of that makes sense, but it goes against everything we’ve seen and heard with the young quarterback this offseason. Allen has done well in the preseason, even if he’s going against a lot of defenders who are going to get cut. But what else is Allen supposed to do? It shouldn’t count against him that he’s excelling against the only guys the Jaguars will put him up against.
And why not even consider Allen during the “open competition”? Why not see what you have in him? After two years on the coaching staff, Marrone knows what he has in Bortles and he knows what he has in Henne.
Maybe it was too late to open it up to three quarterbacks. Maybe Allen hasn’t been that good in practice. Head coach Doug Marrone has said as much:
“He’s been a player now that has played well in games and not practiced as well as he’s played, consistently,” Marrone said on Tuesday. “He’s had good practices, obviously. I think when he gets in there, again, you’re looking to see can he keep doing the same thing? Can he make plays? Can he throw the ball? Can he stay in there? Can he take the punishment? Can he take the hits?”
But how much longer can we take Marrone at his word?
And now he’s saving his praise for Bortles for closed practices where no one else can really challenge what he’s saying.
The Jaguars have operated with needless secrecy and laughable transparency since offseason practices began. They’re limiting access in the hopes that they can control the narrative but the end result is anything but — and this whole quarterback charade, namely Allen getting fewer chances than he should to prove himself, is just the latest example.
“In my opinion, when you want to keep somebody in there they have to have a trait that you really feel good about, a trait that can develop them into a star,” Marrone continued on Tuesday. “If they don’t have any of the traits then that’s very difficult to develop a player into someone that can play.”
Yes, you can answer some of these questions in practice, but why wouldn’t live action against defenders who will actually make a roster make more sense in Allen’s evaluation process?
To me, it doesn’t seem like Allen is playing for a whole lot on Thursday and that’s disappointing. This team desperately needs an answer at quarterback and while I don’t think Allen is it, you have to least try, right?