Jacksonville needs to figure out its quarterback situation fast, and the solution might be in Cleveland or Oakland.
Another week of Jaguars football saw yet another Blake Bortles crash landing, and push is literally coming to shove in Jacksonville. Following an embarrassing 20-7 blowout loss at home to the Houston Texans, members of the Jaguars defense reportedly had to be separated for undisclosed reasons.
While the official reason is not being disclosed, it doesn’t take much detective work to figure it out. Blake Bortles was benched in the third quarter of the loss and finished the game with 61 yards and a pair of turnovers. Jacksonville didn’t reach the end zone until Cody Kessler found it while passing for over twice as many yards as Bortles in less than half the time.
Bortles Bortling isn’t a new trend, and it’s one the Jaguars need to buck. In just over 31 percent of his starts, Bortles has thrown for less than 200 yards, which shouldn’t need to be pointed out as something elite quarterbacks don’t do. Bortles has been so painfully bad-to-average that the mere fact that he stayed out of his own way last year long enough for the Jaguars to almost make the Super Bowl last year was worthy of a contract extension. Jacksonville knew what it was paying for and is now dripping in buyers remorse — but there’s still hope to turn things around.
Bortles has been so painfully bad-to-average that the mere fact that he stayed out of his own way last year long enough for the Jaguars to almost make the Super Bowl last year was worthy of a contract extension.
Jacksonville has been hesitant to rip off the Bortles band-aid and it’s cost them a shot at Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins and other potential solutions that could be getting the job done right now. If someone in Duvall has the guts to do the right thing and make a change there are two options out there that could bridge a gap, one long-term and another short-term.
The short-term answer is Tyrod Taylor.
Jacksonville could have made this move over the offseason but chose instead to continue standing pat with Bortles. Throw this season for Taylor out and focus on what he did last year. With a defense that helped take the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, Taylor was able to game manage with a lead and ensure his defense got the support it needed. When the Bills had a tight lead (between 1-to-8 point), Taylor had a QBR of 96 which was better than Bortles. Taylor also had a higher QBR with the score tied and led more comeback wins than Bortles did. Taylor wasn’t perfect, and when he was forced to lead the Bills back his QBR took a dive, but we’ve seen him in action with a good defense and can have confidence he’ll be able to give the Jaguars what they sorely lack.
The long-term answer is Derek Carr.
Jon Gruden has made no secret that he’s willing to trade anyone with a pulse in Oakland. Khalil Mack was the Jenga piece that when it was pulled (and traded to Chicago) brought everything tumbling down. Amari Cooper is on the block, Karl Joseph is probably getting traded, and there’s a decent chance that Carr is gone too. Jacksonville can’t financially make a trade work right now without some serious acrobatics, but things seem to be pointing towards Gruden cutting Carr loose at the end of the year. If that happens, there’s no price the Jaguars shouldn’t pay to get him in as an immediate upgrade to Bortles.
A shadow has been cast over Carr thanks to subpar performances dating back to last year, but lest we forget that the Raiders were an ankle injury away from potentially riding Carr deep into the AFC playoffs back in 2016. He was an MVP candidate before getting hurt and then rushed back the next season. Everything Gruden does shouldn’t be held against Carr and having Doug Marrone and Nathanial Hackett get their hands on him should do wonders. Carr was going to take a middle of the pack defense in Oakland deep into the postseason, so imagine what he could do for the World Class Jaguars.
Of course, none of these moves happen if the Jaguars continue to tether themselves to Bortles. Any discussion about how to fix the problem begins and ends there, whether it’s trading for Eli Manning or starting Cody Kessler. They say holding onto the rope does more harm than letting go, and someone might want to tell that to the decision makers in Jacksonville who are watching Bortles with the matches and wondering why the room is on fire.