Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced his decision on Monday afternoon to stick with quarterback Blake Bortles as the team’s starting quarterback, rather than give backup Cody Kessler a shot against the Philadelphia Eagles in London on Sunday. The move was a surprise to many, but realistically it didn’t seem like the team would make that kind of a switch right now.
As I mentioned on Monday when Marrone said the position was “open” during his press conference, despite the fact that I thought they should move on and start Kessler on Sunday, I didn’t think they’d actually do it.
Low and behold, they didn’t.
So why did the Jaguars ultimately decide to stick with Blake Bortles?
Season isn’t over
When you take a step back and look at the situation, the Jaguars are still 3-4 and a game back in a wide open AFC South. Blake Bortles is an overall better player than Cody Kessler and right now the team is just trying to end a three-game losing streak and win the game in front of them. It makes sense you go back to the devil you know and hope you can mitigate his shortcomings now that running back Carlos Hyde can get a full week of game prep. And if you’re just trying to win one game, the dice roll with Bortles is probably the better play.
London has to be a factor
I think the fact that the game is in another country this weekend does have something to do with it. Bortles has made the London trip multiple ways and know show to handle the abnormal week and travel while still preparing as the starting quarterback. Making the switch to Kessler on the same week you change everything for international travel is a large under taking and if nothing else, NFL coaches like what they’re familiar with.
While I don’t necessarily believe there is some mandate from Dave Caldwell dictating that Bortles has to start, I think it would be naive not to think the team is going to try to get everything they can out of Bortles and be absolutely sure before they make a complete starting quarterback change. You also have to factor in that you just paid Bortles and it’s tough to eat that deal just seven games into the first year of it. That’s just how the NFL has always worked and doing otherwise right now would be a franchise quickly admitting a huge mistake and that just doesn’t happen.
Now, if Bortles struggles again on Sunday and keeps turning the ball over I do believe he will be yanked once again and with the bye week the following week, it would be the perfect time to make that kind of drastic change.