Not many people seem to believe David Caldwell and Gus Bradley when they repeatedly insist they plan to keep Blake Bortles on the bench all season. And with each passing pregame game the list gets longer, particularly among the national pundits.
The most common response of NFL analysts when the topic comes up is the roll their eyes and give a wink-wink like in, “Sure, they’re going to keep Bortles on the bench -- and I’ve got a great price for you to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Some, however, are getting . . . well, ESPN’s Tom Jackson called the Jaguars “disingenuous” when it came to their quarterback plans.
I do believe Caldwell and Bradley are sincere in wanting to give Bortles a year to learn on the sidelines because they know he probably doesn’t have enough help to enjoy much success. But I also believe they know waiting makes no sense if Bortles is ready to play and gives the team the best chance to win.
I believe what the Jaguars’ Dynamic Duo is doing is playing mind games, particularly with Chad Henne, who they insist is their starter for the 2014 season. Henne is an NFL journeyman whose career has been marked by his inconsistency. For every outstanding game he has played he has an equal number of stinkers.
Seldom has he gone into a season listed as the undisputed starter. Will such a show of confidence give him the confidence to consistently play at a higher level? That’s obviously what Caldwell and Bradley are counting on.
To the contrary, they want to protect Bortles from losing his confidence because of a weak supporting cast. Let the new offensive line work on continuity at Henne’s expense. Let the young wide receivers make rookie mistakes for the same reason.
I understand that reasoning but I don’t endorse it.
No one knows, of course, if Bortles will be ready now or ever. But that question won’t be answered with him on the bench. Yes, practice is important but it’s still practice.
Another reason to play Bortles as soon as possible is because . . . well, this is entertainment and an excited fan base is clamoring to see him. Watching Bortles could help partially offset the pain of another losing season.
And let’s be realistic. No one, including those inside Everbank Field, is expecting this to be a playoff team.
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