Jaguars to keep Blake Bortles under center against Buffalo
By David Levin
While it might be an unpopular decision with the Jacksonville Jaguars fan base, head coach Doug Marrone has named Blake Bortles as the starter for Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone put the question to bed as soon as it was asked by the local media on Monday afternoon. Blake Bortles will start Sunday when the Jaguars travel to Buffalo.
Bortles, who was ineffective in the team’s 20-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, could not muster much offense and relied on a tough running game and stingy defense. The Steelers came back in the fourth quarter of the game after trailing as much as 16-6 at one point in the contest.
"As John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote, “Bortles, the Jaguars’ starter in the last 71 games, completed 10 of 18 passes for 104 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions in a 20-16 loss at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. The Jaguars led 16-0 with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter but did not produce a first down on four offensive possessions thereafter.”"
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The decision, in my opinion, is the right call given this team still must finish the season strong. While a change at quarterback is understandable, Bortles is the more accomplished signal caller.
Should the team turn to Cody Kessler and the former Cleveland Browns quarterback falters, it might be harder to go back to the man the team handed the keys to the offense in the first place.
Kessler has played one half of football in the team’s 20-7 loss to Houston a month ago.
"“We’re not going to do that,” Marrone said when asked on a conference call on Monday about making a change. “We’re looking at everything and how we can do things better,” he added."
Everything might include discovering how to get to the end zone once again as the Jaguars running attack dominated the game for three quarters and the defense, which included two interceptions by Jalen Ramsey, kept Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger off balance for the first 45 minutes of the ball game.
Roethlisberger finished with three interceptions on the day.
The Steelers loaded nine players up front to contain the run, especially the effort of Leonard Fournette and dared the Jaguars to beat them with the passing game. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett could not come up with the right formula to extend the Jaguars lead after the first half of the game on Sunday.
"“We played extremely hard. We came up on the short end of the stick. We’re going to focus on playing with that same kind of intensity and trying to put a full game together,” Marrone added."
The Jaguars are now 3-7 with six games left in the season and are last in the AFC South, four games behind the Houston Texans.
Marrone said there are no immediate plans for changes in his staff right now, but did not rule out making changes to the lineup for the game at Buffalo. He said the decision, if any, would come from the week of practice where he can assess how players perform in their preparation for the team’s next game.