Jaguars waiting on QB decision to ‘see how this thing goes’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone isn’t quite ready to name Chad Henne his starting quarterback.

Or Blake Bortles, for that matter.

Marrone said Saturday he wants to “see how this thing goes” over the next few days before deciding who will start against the Carolina Panthers in a preseason game Thursday night.

Marrone opened up the team’s quarterback competition after another inconsistent performance from Bortles, the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

“I’m going to watch during the week and not put myself into a situation where you kind of get backed up and at the end of the day you’ve got to change it,” Marrone said. “That’s the worst thing you can do. So you just go out there and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do during the week. We’re going to see how this thing goes.'”

Bortles was 8 of 13 for 65 yards in a loss to Tampa Bay. All four of Bortles’ drives ended with punts. Bortles has led the offense to three points in six possessions in the preseason.

Henne is 11-of-16 passing for 183 yards, with a touchdown. The 10th-year pro should have another score, but rookie Keelan Cole dropped a would-be touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Buccaneers.

Marrone said Bortles and Henne split starter repetitions Saturday.

“You have to be able to make a decision, and you don’t want to get yourself into a point where you make too quick of a decision,” Marrone said. “So, at the end of the day, I think you just have to evaluate it and make a decision what’s best for the team moving forward. Like I said before, it’s very simple. I’m just looking to see who can lead from that position.”

Bortles had been the franchise’s unquestioned starter for nearly three years. Even Marrone and the team’s top decision-maker, Tom Coughlin, backed Bortles all season.

The biggest question now is whether the Jaguars can even stick with Bortles. Marrone and Coughlin clearly have concerns about his ability, and benching him could be another blow to his confidence. Plus, the team picked up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract and could be on the hook to pay him $19 million in 2018 if he sustains a significant injury this season.

Regardless, the Jaguars are hoping demoting Bortles prompts him to play better.

“You don’t make it this far if you’re not a competitor,” veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “If you’re a competitor, you’re going to respond to it like you should and make it very, very hard for the people up there making the decisions.”

Marrone said he has not been part of any conversations about bringing in another quarterback. The Jaguars also have second-year pro Brandon Allen on the roster.

For now, the competition is between Henne and Bortles.

“That’s the situation in which coach felt like he needed to do something,” receiver Marqise Lee said. “That’s the situation that the quarterbacks got to handle. … As far as making decisions like that, it’s not my job. I’m going to sit back and wait. At the end of the day, I believe in all three quarterbacks and having a possibility to come out and doing the things that we need to do in order to get the Jaguars going.”

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