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Bortles should sit until OL gets fixed

LANDOVER, Md. -- The calls for Blake Bortles will be louder than ever after the Jacksonville Jaguars' 41-10 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field Sunday afternoon.

For good reason, too.

The Jaguars offense was abysmal. It had just 148 yards of total offense and nearly half of it came on Marcedes Lewis' 63-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. It allowed a team-record 10 sacks -- which was two more than the number of first downs it had. Chad Henne, under constant pressure, completed 14 of 28 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown with one interception and ended up with a quarterback rating of 69.5.

Coach Gus Bradley may have lent some credence to the Bortles calls by answering a question about whether he's considering playing the rookie in next week's home opener against Indianapolis by saying: "Right now we have a lot of things we have to correct. We'll take a look at that all on film."

It was the first time Bradley hasn't emphatically answered questions about the quarterback situation by saying Henne was the starter.

But in the end, the Bortles calls likely will go unanswered this week. It's not going to be a popular decision, but it's the correct one right now. The coaching staff can talk about Bortles' development and fundamentals being the reason to keep him on the bench, but the best reason -- and the one they won't likely admit publicly -- is the surprisingly poor play of the offensive line.

The line wasn't expected to be one of the best in the league, but the addition of left guard Zane Beadles in free agency, the continued development of left tackle Luke Joeckel (the No. 2 pick in 2013), and the addition of hard-nosed rookie right guard Brandon Linder was supposed to make it better than last year's unit. So far through two games it has looked worse.

Granted, the Redskins continually rushed five players, but the Jaguars didn't win many battles. Right tackle Cameron Bradfield couldn't hold his own in one-on-one battles with Ryan Kerrigan (four sacks) and eventually got benched for little-used veteran Sam Young. Center Jacques McClendon kept getting pushed back and eliminating the possibility of Henne stepping up into the pocket and eventually was benched for rookie sixth-round pick Luke Bowanko.

Joeckel was tossed around at times and got beat on the edge. Beadles and Linder didn't fare much better inside.

"I don't think you ever expect to put up those kind of numbers like we did," McClendon said. "And it's really inexcusable."

He's right, but the fact is the line was terrible and putting Bortles behind that group doesn't make sense. It's hard enough for a rookie quarterback in the NFL without having to essentially cut his decision-making time in half and make him run around to evade pressure. And to potentially do it without three of the team's best offensive weapons -- Lewis (ankle), Hurns (ankle) and receiver Cecil Shorts (hamstring) -- only adds to the level of difficulty.

Is the offensive line solely to blame for Sunday's debacle? Absolutely not. Henne missed some throws, ran into some sacks, and held onto the ball too long at times. Receivers had trouble getting open and the one veteran receiver that did play (Mike Brown) had two drops. Everyone is responsible.

There is something to be said for baptism by fire, and there is a chance that Bortles would make a few more plays here and there, but does putting Bortles on the field significantly increase the team's chances of winning? It would certainly make fans happier and recapture some of the enthusiasm the franchise had gained in the offseason that evaporated after the 0-2 start.

Maybe that's more important right now, but it'd be surprising if the Jaguars were to make the move.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning aside, quarterbacks need to have pieces around them to be successful in the NFL. Right now, the Jaguars don't have any to put around Bortles -- or in front of him, either. It's a terrible way to put it, but let Henne be the sacrificial lamb for a little while longer.