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Jaguars rookie Blake Bortles to play quarter with starters in Detroit

Posted: August 16, 2014 - 8:34am
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Charles Rex Arbogast Associated Press  Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles passes during warmups  before a preseason game against the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Thursday.  AP
AP
Charles Rex Arbogast Associated Press Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles passes during warmups before a preseason game against the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Thursday.

Although it was laced with caveats about rookies playing with starters and the Jaguars remaining committed to quarterback Chad Henne as the starter, coach Gus Bradley said Friday that rookie Blake Bortles will play a bigger role next week.

Bortles will take practice snaps with the first-team offense and play a quarter with the starters during Friday’s game at Detroit.

“Our whole philosophy is to get our rookies in with the ones, and I believe this week we have to get that done where Blake is in there to see how he handles it,” Bradley said.

Just as quickly, Bradley praised Henne and said asking internally if they should open up the competition isn’t “even a question in our mind.”

“Chad has made strides,” Bradley said. “We feel so strongly about Chad right now [as the starter]. … Where Chad is at right now and where our team is at right now, [Henne starting] is the best thing for us.”

Henne will play two quarters with his fellow starters against the Lions.

But semi-acknowledging the delicacy of the situation, Bradley said he met with Henne to inform him of the team’s plan.

Bortles is a combined 18-of-28 passing for 277 yards in two preseason games of relief work. Henne is 16 of 24 for 160 yards and one touchdown.

Bradley has been adamant throughout training camp that Bortles will eventually see first-team reps but had not put a hard-and-fast date on the debut until his news conference to review the Jaguars’ 20-19 loss at Chicago. Before camp started, Bradley said if Bortles started a preseason game, it wouldn’t be until the finale against Atlanta. Following the Tampa Bay game last week, Bradley agreed with the theory that the Jaguars needed to get Henne ready for the opener before dedicating first-team playing time to Bortles.

Henne, though, got untracked against the Bears, completing 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown. His drives ended with two field goals and one touchdown and punt apiece. The Jaguars gained 166 yards during his 31 snaps.

“I thought he was really efficient and handled the tempo and style we wanted to play,” Bradley said. “That’s the Chad we’ve seen in the OTAs and training camp.”

Said Henne: “We’ve been taking advantage of positive plays all camp. If we can create our tempo early and keep it going, the defense can’t get into their game plan and can only show a couple of coverages.”

For the preseason, Henne’s eight drives have resulted in 13 points. Bortles, who was 7 of 11 for 117 yards in Chicago, has played nine drives and produced nine points.

“Together, the quarterback play was pretty good [against Chicago],” offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. “What I liked the most about it was they were fast in their decision making.”

Fisch said Bortles “had a really good night again — good decisions and wise decisions.”

Bortles will join receiver Allen Hurns, right guard/center Brandon Linder, defensive end Chris Smith and linebacker Telvin Smith, among others, who have been given chances to play with the starters. (Linder is likely to begin the regular season as a starter).

“We did it up in Seattle. You get a chance to see them play and get a better feel,” Bradley said. “When they’re up against the ones, does it get too big for them? How do they handle it? … It’s very beneficial, and the time is right [for Bortles].”

Ryan O’Halloran: (904) 359-4401

JAGUARS AT LIONS

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Where: Ford Field, Detroit.

TV/Radio: WJXT TV-4/WJXL (1010 AM, WGNE 99.9 FM).

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Jag Cynic DeVille
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Jag Cynic DeVille 08/17/14 - 10:55 am
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“Together, the quarterback

“Together, the quarterback play was pretty good [against Chicago],” offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. “What I liked the most about it was they were fast in their decision making.”

Fisch said Bortles “had a really good night again — good decisions and wise decisions.."

This begs to ask: Is Fisch saying Henne was less a contributor to "really good" QB play?
The answer is very similar to the reason Gene Smith wanted to start Blaine Gabbert so soon. Vanity is part of this ambitious play, show. On one hand is the team and coaches. On the other is a young GM. Overthinking what could be considered a success in drafting players, esp. a QB at #3 overall, is a BIG mistake. Other rookie QB's have had more talent and experience (bigger college programs/conf.) yet failed because of being put in the show too soon.

If this is a sustainable, long term rebuild, one would assume the most important (and costly draft pick) decision to date by DC, would warrant some maturity so as to protect the investment. Like a new car, an NFL QB needs to be worn in a little. Again, not having a Plan B, other than Bortles, at the QB position is a mistake. GS made a similar mistake, as did Bill Polian, and several other NFL GM's. It is a gamble and the wager is your future franchise QB (wantittobe). One injury away from Bortles season mirroring BG's first. The only difference is we haven't a running game as good as his, and this one dimensional Fisch offense scored very few points last year.
Go get that NFL passing record (ypc) holding FA QB.

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