The Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Indianapolis Colts for the home opener on Sunday. The fan base is clamoring for rookie quarterback Blake Bortles to come in and play for oft-inept starter Chad Henne. Just don’t expect it to be on Sunday against the Colts. Blake Bortles will get his chance if the losses keep coming but until then it’s Henne’s job and expect the coaching staff to continue to back him for at least this week.
Think of it as a final audition. Henne must show the Jaguars why Blake Bortles should remain on the bench.
So far it seems like the coaching staff is unhappy with how things are going but still determined to go with Henne. Head coach Gus Bradley has been open about his support for Henne, saying: We really haven’t talked about that. We just put all of our focus on Chad. we said, ‘Hey, we feel good. He’s the starter.’ We just feel good about what he has done.” Bradley added they never even discussed putting Blake Bortles in instead of Chad Henne.
If I were the head coach of the Jags (which I’m not, thankfully) I would not feel good about Henne’s body of work thus far. He’s 38 of 71 for 459 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Those numbers don’t jump off the page screaming, “I deserve to start!” What they tell all of us is what we already knew, “I’m mediocre.” Despite this, everything the coaching staff has said is in support of Henne. There will likely not be a sudden Jack Del Rio QB switch right before week three or midway through the game.
This Sunday, expect the mediocre to show again. Expect the coaching staff to finally take notice. Expect them to realize that mediocre doesn’t “feel good” and that three touchdowns to one interception in two games isn’t good enough in today’s NFL. While the game against the Colts probably won’t be Henne’s swan song, you can expect it to be the measuring stick for starting Bortles or not in weeks four through 17.
Blake Bortles has been quiet about most of this as it swirls around him. Teams with quarterback struggles/controversies can be hard to grow in and it will be important for Bortles to have more support. Whether he is chosen as the starter or not, the Jaguars need to show progress as a team. There needs to be something that he can glean from Henne’s game. If there isn’t then keeping him on the bench isn’t helping anything, especially if Henne puts up another mediocre to bad game against the Colts.
While we all watch Henne’s game on Sunday evaluate whether there is anything that Bortles could learn on each snap. If there is something he’s learning from the sideline then the coaching staff may remain behind Henne not just for week three but for longer. I don’t see that happening, however. Expect Blake Bortles in week four. I hope it isn’t too late, though.