The Jacksonville Jaguars dropped their seventh straight game on Sunday, this time losing to the Buffalo Bills 24-21 in a game that wasn’t really that close. The loss means that the Jaguars have not won a game in two full calendar months, as their next game takes place in December against the Indianapolis Colts.
It was the second week in a row that quarterback Blake Bortles struggled to make the simplest passes and it was clear the coaching staff had no confidence in him to do so. At one point down 14-0, the Jaguars threw the ball just once (a screen) on a long touchdown drive. They felt more comfortable just continuously running the football rather than let Bortles drop back. Last week I asked if they didn’t trust Bortles enough to where it was made a point to not let him throw unless absolutely necessary and I’m still waiting for an answer, since head coach Doug Marrone after the loss on Sunday said he never considered benching Bortles in favor of backup Cody Kessler.
Marrone has been asked two weeks in a row if he considering benching Bortles and even announced that Bortles would start last week leading up to this game. This all feels and seems incredibly weird and logic defying. I don’t think Kessler is any good either, but after seven losses in a row and it being painfully clear you do not trust the quarterback and the quarterback doesn’t seem to trust himself... how can you not even be considering a change just for the sake of trying something different to get out of the slide?
I wondered this last night and I figured it came down to three things.
They know Cody Kessler is worse
While Kessler looked fine in the preseason and even produced a spark against the Houston Texans for the half he played, maybe the coaching staff simply knows that he’s just flat out worse. They do seem him every day at practice and sit in with him on meetings. It’s entirely possible that he’s just awful. But then that raises the concern that general manager Dave Caldwell by passed drafting a QB (sorry Tanner Lee, you don’t count) or signing a veteran back up in favor of trading for Kessler... who might be so bad you can’t even bench the starter who looks like a complete lost cause. So if that’s the case, why is Kessler still here?
The don’t actually think Bortles is playing that bad
I cannot imagine it’s this, given how the games are called. It’s clear the do not trust Bortles and they’re not even going to try to do anything in the passing game unless they absolutely have to and even then it’s going to be easy one-read routes or something with an easy checkdown. Maybe they think all the injuries just destroyed everything and how Bortles is playing is the best anyone could hope to play given the situation. I simply think that’s nonsense, but we have to entertain that it could be true.
The front office mandates Blake plays
The final possible scenario is probably the worst and most damning one. When Bortles was benched during the Texans game, Marrone said after the game the position was open. Then 24-hours later via a team release, before any practices, Bortles was announced as the starter going to London and Marrone has said each time he’s asked that he has not considered benching Bortles for Kessler. Why the sudden resistance? You did it once. Bortles has actually played much worse, twice, and you didn’t even consider it?
That sounds fishy. Then again, you have to consider that if Bortles is benched again and in the sense that Kessler starts a game, then Bortles is completely done. It means he’s a bust, they screwed up giving him an extension and he shouldn’t be on the team after the season and the person responsible for drafting/extending him should be fired. While many of us may say “DUH!” and feel logically that is obvious, it’s still a massive step for a team to actually admit.
Then again, maybe Marrone is posturing and continues to roll Bortles out there to hammer home the fact that he’s weighed down by an anchor and this is the best he can do given the circumstances in the hopes that general manager Dave Caldwell is pushed out and they get a new quarterback that Marrone wants in 2019.