Jaguars to start Blake Bortles in season finale against Houston
By David Levin
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced on Wednesday that Blake Bortles would start the team’s final game of the season against the Houston Texans.
Blake Bortles started the season under center for the Jacksonville Jaguars and that is where he will finish the season. The announcement by head coach Doug Marrone was no surprise given the fifth-year starter helped the team to a 17-7 win over the Miami Dolphins last week, providing a spark for a troubled franchise just looking to win football games.
For Bortles, it will most likely be his last start in a Jaguars uniform as the franchise is expected to release him following the season, ending a five-year marriage that yielded one playoff run.
"“We just feel like his mobility will give us a better chance against obviously a very tough team,” Marrone said when he met with the media on Wednesday."
The Jaguars face a tough Houston defense led once again by J.J. Watt, who has 14.5 sacks this season. The Texans are fighting for the AFC South title and need the win on Sunday to potentially earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. Jacksonville, the AFC South champion last year, hopes to play the role of spoiler.
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With a 5-10 record heading into Sunday, a two-game winning streak would be the kind of momentum this organization needs to build for the 2019 season.
It would also hurt the team’s draft position. Jacksonville will look to add a rookie quarterback in the NFL Draft in April and hopefully sign a veteran free agent or trade for one, further distancing themselves from Blake Bortles, who has had issues with inconsistency and accuracy the majority of his career.
"“As a football player, it feels good any time you play football – and they let you play,” Bortles said when he talking the media Wednesday afternoon. “I enjoy the hell out of getting to come to work every day and practice with these guys. It’s our last opportunity to play a game together as this team. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next year. I think we’ll just enjoy this.”"
The Jaguars have had their share of injuries this season, especially to the offensive line. Borltes ran twice for 27 yards on Sunday, setting up a scoring drive in Miami. The offense has been lifeless for most of the season. The lack of a running game, which has been hit by injuries as well, has forced the Jaguars to play from behind in most of their games this year.
Bortles started 72 straight games in his career in Jacksonville but was benched for Cody Kessler, who had started the last four contests. Kessler, who came to the Jaguars in a trade with Cleveland in the offseason, replaced an ineffective Borltes in the second half of a 20-7 loss to Houston in October at home.
Last offseason, Blake Bortles, and the Jaguars agreed to a three-year, $54-million contract extension after he helped the team to the AFC Title game. The contract calls for $26.5 million in guaranteed money. In 2017, the former first=round draft pick threw for 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a 10-6 ball club.
The running game ranked first in the NFL behind rookie Leonard Fournette and a roster that was one of the healthiest in the league. The same cannot be this year as Fournette has been banged up as well with hamstring, foot and ankle injuries.