After a second consecutive mediocre preseason outing from his franchise signal-caller on Thursday night, Jags coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Jacksonville has a quarterback competition on its hands.
"It's this simple: I'm looking for the best person to lead this offense," Marrone told reporters, per John Oehser of the team's website. "[The QB position] is right up there for grabs, and either person can take it."
Marrone added, on Bortles: "It's not like he's not the quarterback. He's got to go earn it."
The coach's comments come on a night when the Jaguars, playing on national television, were shut out in the first half in a home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, during which Bortles appeared out of his element once again. The fourth-year quarterback's severe underthrow of a wide-open Allen Robinson in the second quarter earned him a chorus of boos from the Duval faithful.
Bortles' outing with the first-team offense was so underwhelming that Marrone sent backup quarterback Chad Henne out at the end of the first half and start of the second half with the starters. Henne's entry on Thursday appears now like a prelude of what is to come at Jags camp.
Through two preseason games, Bortles is 11 for 18 for 81 yards with no touchdowns and no picks, while Henne is 11 for 16 for 183 yards with one TD. Third-stringer Brandon Allen was the most impressive signal-caller, and Jacksonville's leading rusher, on Thursday night; he is 15 for 22 for 229 yards with two TDs through two exhibitions.
As has become obvious this offseason, the Jaguars have stockpiled too much talent on both sides of the ball -- young (Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey) and old (Calais Campbell) -- to throw away yet another season due to subpar quarterback play. Marrone, general manager Dave Caldwell and new football czar Tom Coughlin know this and have now taken the first step toward remedying a problem position that has ailed the organization for nearly a decade.