It’s also one that should have been made in February.
Instead of trying to fix an inconsistent quarterback who struggles with his decision-making and turns the ball over on average more than once per game over the past three seasons, the Jaguars should have brought in competition. Sign one in free agency. Draft one in April.
There were options available: Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon and Nick Foles were free agents. Even if the Jaguars were dead set on Leonard Fournette and didn’t want to take a quarterback in the early rounds of the draft, they had options there, too: C.J. Beathard (third round by San Francisco) or Nathan Peterman (fifth round by Buffalo), for example.
The Jaguars should have brought in somebody to battle Bortles, Henne and Brandon Allen in organized team activities, minicamp and training camp. The Jaguars’ plan to significantly increase Bortles' practice reps (he said he has thrown the ball more in this camp than the previous three combined) so he could learn to make better decisions and have a better grasp of the offense turned out to be a waste of time.
Here’s what Bortles said about those increased reps earlier this week:
“We’re still making mistakes, and we’ve had thousands of reps,” he said. “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.”
That’s an alarming statement. Still making mistakes after thousands of reps is bad news. If you’re unable to eliminate mistakes after all that work, you’re in trouble. While Bortles was talking about the entire offense, it applies to his play, too.
Bortles hasn’t been any better or worse over the three weeks of training camp and two preseason games than he was last season -- or the season before. He’s still staring down receivers. He’s still making poor decisions. He’s still misfiring on throws that should be practically automatic for NFL quarterbacks (crossing patterns, especially).
Bortles has turned the ball over more times (63) than anyone else and thrown the second-most interceptions (51) in the NFL over the past three seasons. He’s 11-34 as a starter, and according to ESPN Stats & Information, that’s the worst win percentage (.244) of any quarterback taken in the top three of the common draft era (since 1967) with at least 40 starts.
The other stat that we’ve beaten to death: He has thrown 11 pick-sixes.
So taking all that into consideration, it now looks borderline irresponsible that the Jaguars did not bring in someone in the offseason to challenge Bortles. Or at the very least give Henne a fair shot at winning the job when training camp began.
At least they’re doing it now.
“It’s just a matter of the production,” Marrone said. “It’s not the production we want, OK. I’m not saying that Chad has it or not. It’s right up there for grabs, and either person can take it. But it’s up there, and we’ll take a look at it, and at the end of the day, we’ll make the best decision. Again, who is the best person?
“It’s very simple. Who is the best person to put in that position to lead the offense?”