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After a second consecutive mediocre preseason outing from his franchise signal-caller on Thursday night, Jags coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Jacksonville has a quarterback competition on its hands.
“It’s this simple: I’m looking for the best person to lead this offense,” Marrone told reporters, per John Oehser of the team’s website. “[The QB position] is right up there for grabs, and either person can take it.”
Marrone added, on Bortles: “It’s not like he’s not the quarterback. He’s got to go earn it.”
The coach’s comments come on a night when the Jaguars, playing on national television, were shut out in the first half in a home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, during which Bortles appeared out of his element once again. The fourth-year quarterback’s severe underthrow of a wide-open Allen Robinson in the second quarter earned him a chorus of boos from the Duval faithful.
Bortles’ outing with the first-team offense was so underwhelming that Marrone sent backup quarterback Chad Henne out at the end of the first half and start of the second half with the starters. Henne’s entry on Thursday appears now like a prelude of what is to come at Jags camp.
Through two preseason games, Bortles is 11 for 18 for 81 yards with no touchdowns and no picks, while Henne is 11 for 16 for 183 yards with one TD. Third-stringer Brandon Allen was the most impressive signal-caller, and Jacksonville’s leading rusher, on Thursday night; he is 15 for 22 for 229 yards with two TDs through two exhibitions.
When asked how Bortles was in terms of his decision-making and accuracy, Marrone said bluntly, “Good enough for me to stand here and say he gives us the best chance to win.”
Bortles being named the starter wouldn’t be a surprise in years past, as he has started the last 45 games for the franchise. But Marrone’s announcement bookends a week during which Marrone announced the QB position was up for grabs between Bortles and veteran backup Chad Henne, the latter of whom then started Jacksonville’s third preseason game, often seen as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.
Neither signal-caller was groundbreaking in Thursday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. In five first-half series, Henne went 8 of 14 for 73 yards. Bortles played seven series in the second half and went 12 of 16 for 125 yards and one touchdown.
After Thursday night’s tilt, Marrone told reporters he wasn’t ready to name either man the starting quarterback. That has since changed.
Despite the announcement, Bortles still appears to be on the shortest of leashes in Jacksonville, even if Marrone insists that Bortles has “the same leash I would give any other player on our team.”
According to the team’s announcement, Bortles has only been named the starter for the Jaguars’ season opener and was not declaratively named the starting quarterback for the entire season. This is more than semantics. This QB competition is not over.
The Jaguars announced Sunday they signed veteran back DuJuan Harris. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Third-year back T.J. Yeldon suffered a hamstring injury in the Jaguars’ Week 2 preseason game Thursday night. With Yeldon and Leonard Fournette (foot) sidelined, Harris can help fill the void at running back for the remainder of preseason action. Harris was previously with the team back in 2011.
Harris most recently played for the San Francisco 49ers, and was released by the team in May. He’s also had stints with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.
In a corresponding move, the team waived cornerback Charles Gaines.