Blake Bortles’ ‘make-or-break’ season with the Jaguars has taken an ugly turn

After an unimpressive showing in Week 2 of the NFL preseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that the quarterback job is up for grabs.

“I’m looking for someone that’s going to lead this offence … I’m not going to sit here and BS anyone,” head coach Doug Marrone said after the Jaguars’ 12-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.

“Everyone saw it out there. Whatever you want to call it, I’m still trying to evaluate who the best person is at that position.”

This comes as bad news for Blake Bortles, who after a disappointing 2016 season, is facing a “make-or-break” season, according to ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. In his first three years in the NFL, Bortles leads the league in turnovers with 63 and has the second-most interceptions with 51. While the Jaguars picked up Bortles’ fifth-year option, it’s only guaranteed for injury, so Bortles’ future with the team, and perhaps in the league, may be on the line.

Thus far, it hasn’t gotten off to a good start. Bortles made news earlier in training camp when he threw five interceptions in one practice. Later, during a team practice with the Bucs, Bortles frustrated All-Pro receiver Allen Robinson when he badly overthrew him in a drill. Robinson was heard saying, “Keep that s— in-bounds, bro.”

Bortles likely didn’t win over Robinson on Thursday either, missing him badly on a wide open pass downfield.

Marrone didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of Bortles when he said after one practice that Bortles made “some good throws and some horses— throws.”

Last Sunday, Marrone let backup Chad Henne take first-team reps because he thought Bortles’ arm looked tired. Bortles disagreed with the sentiment. According to DiRocco, however, the Jaguars and Bortles have intensified the reps in training camp in an effort to improve Bortles’ reads — and it hasn’t worked. Said Bortles:

“We’re still making mistakes, and we’ve had thousands of reps. Imagine if we only had 500, it would be probably way worse. I think the only way to eliminate those mistakes is continue to do it and continue to do it and continue to correct it in meetings until it’s beaten in your head that you know how to do it.”

Not a promising sign.

Of course, if the Jaguars had anticipated this problem and felt unsure of Bortles’ future going forward, they could have made a move for another quarterback, as DiRocco suggested. In the draft, they used the fourth overall pick on Leonard Fournette to design a run-based offence, but could have targeted any number of the quarterbacks afterward.

They also could have looked to free agency when several capable quarterbacks were available, even if none of them resembled franchise players. Quarterbacks like Brian Hoyer, Josh McCown, Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon, and Nick Foles all found new homes (eventually) in free agency. And Colin Kaepernick, a player who would represent an upgrade from the Jaguars’ current quarterback situation, is still available.

Marrone admitted on Thursday that he’s looking for someone who can run the offence. With three weeks until the NFL regular season, it’s possible Bortles still wins the job. However, with his own future in doubt, Bortles needs to turn things around quickly.

Robert McClain on Allen Robinson. Plays him well, ball thrown too far out of bounds (unfortunately for one man too close to the sideline)
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) August 15, 2017

I’m sure Allen Robinson was thrilled. Smoked the DB and Bortles pulled a Bortles.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) August 18, 2017