After three long seasons with Blaine Gabbert at the helm, Jacksonville's long-suffering fan base can take heart in what we saw tonight: a functioning young quarterback who took chances down the field and energized the offense, going 7-of-11 passing for 117 yards with no interceptions.
No touchdowns, either, but Bortles showed better chemistry with his limited receiving group than Henne.
Watching him work, the rookie does a nice job with his feet and sees the field, too, something he displayed on a rollout dart to fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou for a fresh set of downs on his initial drive. Bortles wasn't facing starters, but he generated buzz with two completions on his first three passes, including a pretty 24-yard shot over the middle to rookie wideout Allen Hurns.
He later found Mike Brown down the heart of the field for a 31-yard gain, looking the part of a big-armed quarterback willing to take shots.
Bortles, though, did a better job than Henne of keeping plays alive and finding his wideouts in open windows. It wasn't perfect, but after too many Sundays of Gabbert flittering around in the pocket, by comparison, Bortles looked comfortable under pressure.
The Jaguars remain committed to sitting their first-round pick, allowing Bortles to marinate in a season's worth of meetings and practices. A solid plan on paper, but tougher to pull off in real life if Henne lays a consistent stream of eggs come September.
Bortles showed too much to sit all year long.