The switch comes on the heels of the team's ugly 24-21 loss to Buffalo, but also on the back end of seven straight losses for a squad many expected to compete for the AFC crown.
"I'm making this change to give us an opportunity to win a football game," Marrone said, per John Reid of the Florida Times Union. "Cody knows the offense ... and I talked to him on what's expected of him."
Marrone refused to bury Bortles, saying: "Any time you're losing, it's not just on one person. It's on everyone, and, obviously, when I say that, I understand and take responsibility for those as far as being the head coach."
Kessler has seen the field before in 2018, relieving Bortles during a Week 7 loss to the Texans. The former USC standout and Browns starter went 21-of-30 passing for 156 yards with one touchdown and a pick against Houston, but was sent back into the shadows before Jacksonville's Week 8 (losing) appointment with the Eagles in London.
The move comes hours after Marrone fired his longtime friend and play-caller Nathaniel Hackett, who told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport he thought he was being called in to discuss a change under center.
"It wasn't anything negative, (Marrone) just decided to make a move," Hackett told Rapoport of his dismissal. "I guess he didn't think I was good enough, that's the only thing I can think of. It's a shock."
None of this comes as a great surprise. It was more head-turning to see the team hand Bortles a three-year, $54 million contract this past offseason packed with $26.5 million in guarantees. Instead of heat-seeking the draft for a young challenger to the job, the Jaguars nestled up to an athletic-but-faulty starter with a seemingly unfixable soup of mechanical issues. Greenbacks aside, it's possible Bortles never starts again for the franchise that made him the third-overall pick in 2014.
The result -- again, not all on Bortles -- is a 3-8 team spiraling into irrelevance. The coordinator is gone, the quarterback is grounded -- and it's only fair to wonder what changes might come next during a highly troublesome season in Jacksonville.