The Jacksonville Jaguars made big waves on Monday by hiring Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin – what does it mean for Blake Bortles?
The Jaguars languished for four years under former head coach Gus Bradley, with owner Shad Khan showing immense patience to keep the historically bad coach. There was just enough improvement in 2015 for the Jaguars to rationalize keeping Bradley, with the albatross of hope firmly on Blake Bortles’ shoulders.
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The young signal caller regressed in 2016 and the now the Jaguars have a new head coach (Doug Marrone) and a new head honcho in the front office (Tom Coughlin). The question now is what do the new leaders plan to do with Bortles.
Albert Breer over at the MMQB believes these moves signal the franchise doubling down on Blake Bortles.
"The Jaguars did more than hire Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin on Monday. They also doubled down on Blake Bortles."
Breer contends that the Jaguars are basically saying “we don’t care what people think about these moves, we can be great if Bortles gets right.”
"They know that if they get the quarterback many thought they reached on three years ago, it won’t matter. And they know if Bortles doesn’t get better, then they’ll all be gone."
Breer also concludes that Caldwell wasn’t genuine when he said playing Bortles wouldn’t be a mandate for the new coach.
"David Caldwell said less than a month ago, after Gus Bradley was fired, that there would be no mandate that the next coach start Bortles, but tipped his hand in saying he still believed “very much” in the young quarterback. The truth is, Jacksonville wasn’t going to hire someone who thinks Bortles is broken."
I disagree with Breer for the most part and that might just me be hoping for this not to be the case. The Jaguars are most certainly going to bring in some type of competition for Bortles this offseason (likely in the draft) and I don’t think Tom Coughlin is going to be married to him long term. If Coughlin likes a different QB this year or next year, Bortles is gone. And while Marrone has publicly spouted his support for Bortles, Marrone had no problem dumping EJ Manuel for Kyle Orton in Buffalo. Marrone isn’t going to keep trotting out a broken Bortles like Bradley did in 2016 if he wants to win.
I don’t see this as doubling down, I see it as a message to Bortles that he has one more shot to prove himself to a new staff and a new decision maker in Coughlin.