If you think a change at quarterback is what’s needed to get the Jacksonville Jaguars back on the winning track again, you’re not thinking the same way that Jaguars coach Doug Marrone is.
At one point during his post-game press conference on Sunday, Marrone was asked flat out if he’d considered benching starting quarterback Blake Bortles during the Jaguars 37-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
“For what reason?’’ Marrone asked with a somewhat quizzical look.
“I’m just asking,’’ the questioner responded.
“No,’’ Marrone said flatly.
OK, on the surface, the question seems like it might be a valid one. After all, from a statistical standpoint at least Bortles performance on Sunday looked a lot like so many of those that have come before it.
He completed 20 of 34 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown, which is fine, but he also lost a fumble on one of the two sacks he took, was picked off twice on passes tipped at the line of scrimmage and finished the game with a 63.7 passer rating.
Marrone pointed out, though, that a lot of Bortles struggles were the result of the poor play of the players who have been charged with protecting him and making plays down the field for him.
“A lot of emphasis is going to go back to that, to the question about the quarterback,’’ Marrone said later in answering another question about his team’s most recent offensive struggle. “But, just look at the sack fumble.
“That’s a blind-side hit. So, what are you going to do there? I mean, he’s not trying to make it. He made some plays on his feet. And on the second (giveaway, first interception), the guy’s open. It’s a play-action pass so people shouldn’t have their hands up. That’s (on the guys) up front. That can’t happen.
“Then the next one, I have to take a better look at it, but any time the ball touches anyone’s body, you know. And some of the catches we have to make. And we have to put our players in good shape, but it’s also hard to call plays when you start off first-and-15, first-and-20 and things like that.
“Those are tough things and we try to come out of it and we try to take some shots downfield, but then we give up the sack up. So I mean, these are the things that are going through our minds when we’re out there.’’
Marrone could have ended that last sentence by adding, “not changing the quarterback,’’ because on days like Sunday, it probably doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, he’s unlikely to succeed.
Bortles, of course, has had a lot of days like that since joining the Jaguars and that point simply cannot be underestimated. The fact of the matter is the Jaguars have done a poor job of surrounding Bortles with talent that allows him to play to his true abilities.
Now, Bortles is surrounded by a little more talent this year than he has been in the past, but when a team succeeds in shutting down the Jaguars running game and exposes it’s offensive line for what it really is as the Titans did, it’s hard for any quarterback to succeed.