Bortles doesn't make Jags' decision at QB any easier

BY Ross Jones • August 14, 2014

The quarterback question continues to hover over Jacksonville this August, while the team’s front office and coaching staff remain steadfast in their decision.

Chad Henne is the starter. Blake Bortles is the future.

But after selecting Bortles third overall in May’s NFL Draft, one would assume the rookie quarterback would get every opportunity to gain real-time playing experience once he’s ready. That’s not the case, though.

As FOX Sports 1’s NFL analyst Alex Marvez reported earlier this week, the Jaguars are planning to start and play Henne, while Bortles sits and learns under the veteran. With another solid preseason performance, the Jaguars’ decision will continue to ring on deaf ears.

Henne’s outing in Thursday night’s 20-19 loss against the Bears was efficient, but it was far from a complete validation.

In four series, Henne was able to pilot three scoring drives, including a 6-yard strike to rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee for a touchdown.

Henne, though, was a beneficiary of the league’s new point of emphasis regarding illegal contact.

Facing a third-and-13, Henne was under pressure and sacked by Bears defensive end Trevor Scott. But an eagerly awaiting officiating crew threw a flag in Bears cornerback Kelvin Hayden’s direction for illegal contact. It was an automatic first down and gave the Jaguars a second chance to muscle the ball into the end zone.

In 33 snaps, Henne was able to move the offense, completing 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

With a little more than three minutes remaining in the half, Bortles’ number was called upon. Running the no-huddle offense, the rookie signal caller operated offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s system effectively.

Bortles connected with wide receiver Kerry Taylor for a short pass, which was taken for a 16-yard gain. Two plays later, it was a 24-yard hookup with wide receiver Mike Brown.

In all, the rookie’s nine-play, 50-yard drive ended in a Josh Scobee field goal, but it was another glimpse of Bortles’ command and confidence.

The highlight of the night? Diagnosing a one-on-one matchup in the third quarter, Bortles pump faked to his right, scanned to his left and threw a 29-yard dart to Taylor. It was a thing of beauty and enough to get people wondering what it would take for him to get first-team reps.

Bortles, whose two-game tally completing 18 of 28 passes for 277 yards, has given even more reason for people to ask Jacksonville’s decision-makers the quarterback question.   

Points of emphasis are being emphasized

The NFL uses the preseason as an opportunity to experiment rule changes.

While they toy with extra points being kicked from the 15-yard line for the first two weeks of preseason, the league has also inserted an eighth official in a handful of games. And it was more than apparent the eighth official was in the house at Soldier Field on Monday night.

New points of emphasis (illegal use of hands to the face, offensive pass interference and defensive holding) had the officials ready to make a statement on anything that was close.

Of the 17 flags thrown in the first half, eight of them were because of the new points of emphasis.

Bear-ly hanging on?

Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller suffered an ankle injury on the opening kickoff and never returned. Fuller shouldn’t be out for an extended amount of time, though, as his X-ray on his ankle came back negative, he said following the game, via Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam Jahns.

The injuries piled up for Chicago, though, as defensive tackle Will Sutton and tight end Zach Miller exited with a foot injury. Miller, whose injury has been described as “devastating”, is coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Eagles. 

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