Bortles does solid job in pro debut
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Jacksonville Jaguars - INSIDE SLANT
Bortles-Now faction that has called for Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles to get the starting job, picked up steam Friday.
Did Bortles throw any touchdown passes? No. Did he throw for a lot of yards? Not really, 117 in about two quarters of action. Did he excite the crowd with some pin-point passing? Absolutely.
Could he start this Thursday's game against Chicago? Absolutely...not!
He exhibited poise, confidence, leadership. His passes were sharp and they had good zip. That's been one of the negative notes about Bortles during the offseason and to a lesser extent, into training camp. Some of his throws wobbled.
But not in this game. He finished with 7-of-11 passes for the 117 yards and a respectable 99.4 passer rating. Whether it was pinpoint passes near the sideline, short tosses to backs out of the backfield or mid-range throws downfield to a backup receiver, Bortles was on target. Three of his four incompletions went through receivers' hands, meaning a 10-for-11 effort for 150-plus yards was within his sights.
For a franchise and its fans that have been clamoring for an effective quarterback, Bortles definitely looked the part. But that's as far as it will go for now. The former Central Florida standout still has not taken any snaps with the No. 1 offensive unit during training camp. That prompted the obvious question to Gus Bradley, about whether that time was coming any time soon.
"Our philosophy is that we're going to try and I know we haven't seen it yet, but we're going to try and get these rookies in with the ones," Bradley said. "Somewhere you're going to see it because that's our philosophy, to give guys an opportunity to play with the ones so they can feel the speed of the ones. So we do that with all of our guys. I'm sure we'll do it with Blake as well. I just think that (Blake) is progressing nice."
Bradley has said all along that Chad Henne is firmly entrenched as the Jaguars starting quarterback. But Henne didn't post very good numbers in the preseason opener (4-of-7, 30 yards), though the next day after watching the tape, Bradley faulted some receivers for not running solid pass routes and putting forth less than a 100 percent effort.
So Henne will continue as the Jaguars starter ... for now. It would appear that it's just a matter of time until Bortles does take control, but the first step has to be to work with the No. 1 offensive unit. Until that happens, there won't be any changes at quarterback. Plenty of talk, but no action.
NFL Team Report - Jacksonville Jaguars - NOTES, QUOTES
--While the Jaguars offense struggled in the preseason opener with Tampa Bay, the defense looked like it was in mid-season form. Jacksonville's first-team defense allowed one first down and 15 total yards, for the most part leaving the game after Winston Guy's 68-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Jags defense held the Buccaneers to 47 first-half rushing yards. That in turn helped to crank up a revitalized pass rush that put plenty of pressure on the Bucs quarterbacks.
The first-team defense played three series, holding Tampa Bay to a first down and giving the Jaguars a 7-0 lead when safety Winston Guy intercepted an overthrown pass by Josh McCown and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. Guy made an impressive run down the sideline for the score, but was quick to give credit to the pressure applied by the four linemen up front.
"I thank the defensive line for the interception," he said. "They set up the play for me. We got amazing pressure up front."
Guy finished with 24 more total yards than the Bucs' offense accounted for in the first half.
--Mike Brewster has been the center of attention in training camp thus far, and is likely to have an even greater watchful eye on his play after what happened in Friday's preseason opener with Tampa Bay. Twice Brewster sailed the ball past quarterback Chad Henne, resulting in big losses of minus-16 and minus-21 yards. In both situations, Jacksonville had the ball at the Bucs 33-yard line which would have meant a 50-yard field-goal attempt from Josh Scobee, well within the talented field-goal kicker's range. Instead, the Jaguars had to punt it away once and turned it over on downs the other time.
Brewster is battling Jacques McClendon for the starting spot. McClendon is currently listed as the starting right guard and the backup center. When the Jaguars' second-team offense took over in the second quarter, McClendon came in at the center spot.