May 9, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Blake Bortles (Central Florida) addresses the media at the Upper West Touchdown Club at EverBank Field a day after being selected as the third overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell selected quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick with a plan in mind – sit the young passer until he’s ready to play.
While we currently are in a day and age where rookie quarterbacks start sooner rather than later, the intent to start Chad Henne through the 2014 season seems genuine. The Jaguars haven’t exactly resigned themselves to a losing season, but it’s clear Caldwell and company believe this team is probably another season away from competing.
Still, there will be plenty of temptation to start Bortles over Henne as the season progresses – particularly if Henne and the team is struggling mightily.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the schedule and see when the best opportunity for Bortles to play might be.
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Assuming Bortles doesn’t start the season, I would expect Henne to stay at the top of the depth chart if the Jaguars are winning games. At a minimum, I expect Henne to make it through the first 4 games, even if the Jaguars start 0-2 or 0-3. If Henne is struggling and the offense hasn’t gotten started by week 5, we could see Bortles starting at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Although Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley have both said they would prefer Bortles to sit the entire season, I get the inkling they would like to see him ready for the Colts after the bye week. The extra time during the bye week would be ideal to help get the rookie ready, and there’s a chance the Jaguars are realistically out of playoff contention.
Ultimately, I think Chad Henne’s play will affect this decision more than the team’s record. Even if the Jaguars are playing relatively well heading into the bye (5-5 or 6-4), Bortles should be an option if Henne is being more of a detriment than an asset.
My verdict – Bortles starts week 5 at home against the Steelers.
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