Bortles' second turnover was the final straw for coach Doug Marrone, who pulled his starter for Kessler, the former USC Trojan who was acquired from Cleveland via offseason trade. Kessler's first possession was an unproductive six-play moment in time, but his second was much better: a 10-play, 53-yard drive in which Kessler compiled enough short completions to threaten for the lowest yards-per-completion rate in the league for the week.
No matter, though, because that possession ended in Jacksonville's first points of the day, courtesy of an excellent catch made by T.J. Yeldon just inside the boundary in the end zone. Kessler's scramble produced the pass to Yeldon, which was initially ruled an illegal forward pass (thanks to Kessler coming close to the line of scrimmage) but was eventually corrected.
"I just literally did it to try to get a damn spark from this football team to put everyone on notice that they have to focus and they have to go out there and play better," Marrone told reporters after the game. "At points in the second half they did that. That's not fair to the quarterback but that's the way this business is."
Bortles' benching came after a miserable first half for Jacksonville on both sides of the ball. Bortles completed just 6 of 12 passes for 61 yards before his benching, but that total doesn't include an asterisk for Keelan Cole's two drops (which both came on third downs).
It does account for the lack of life Jacksonville's offense showed (or failed to show). Kessler's insertion at least sparked new energy for the Jags, who desperately needed it after 10 nightmarish quarters of football.
"For me it's on everyone," Marrone said. "It's on everyone as far as we have to look at putting the players out there that can secure the football on offense. Do what we need to do to not lose games. We don't even have opportunities to win them when you turn the ball over three times."