The Jacksonville Jaguars may have hinted at the need to bring in another quarterback to compete with Blake Bortles. However, the organization never came right out and said it.
Over the weekend a fan raised a question to ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. Particularly, the fan wanted to know why the team did not draft a signal caller? Executive Vice-President Tom Coughlin earlier this offseason said that Bortles needed to play better. Additionally, he needs to protect the football. Although, he never said there would be competition behind center. The same holds true for head coach Doug Marrone. He told the media in Jacksonville that he understood. If the team was in need of a passer, then the organization should go out and pursue one.
DiRocco, plainly put, told the reader who asked him the question in an “open mailbag” forum the reason for such interest in another quarterback to lead the team in 2017 was generated from other sources.
“This is a great question because it’ll help clear up a misconception about the Jaguars wanting to bring in competition for quarterback Blake Bortles this offseason,” DiRocco wrote.
“That was entirely media (myself included) and fan driven. Nobody inside the organization — GM Dave Caldwell, coach Doug Marrone or executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin — ever said publicly that the team wanted, or needed, to bring in another quarterback to compete with Bortles.”
As the draft neared, the news of another quarterback coming to Jacksonville really caught steam. Moreover, when several mock drafts placed Deshaun Watson in North Florida with the fourth pick. Watson, the All-American from Clemson, was one of the players invited to EverBank Field as part of the interview process. Heck, Watson toured many NFL teams in the weeks before the draft. Seeing that many linked him to at least four teams in the top 10.
“It was logical to assume that it would happen after Bortles struggled in 2016, and when Coughlin didn’t exactly give Bortles a ringing endorsement in a two news conferences, it seemed all but a certainty. However, it’s apparent now that the Jaguars’ hierarchy had more commitment to Bortles in 2017. In fact, more than those of us outside the organization realized. The Jaguars didn’t sign any free-agent quarterbacks and didn’t draft one last weekend, either,” DiRocco explained.
Days after the NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars picked up Bortles’ fifth-year option, adding credence to the notion there is a belief he can still be a franchise quarterback. The general manager told reporters at the Senior Bowl he thought Bortles could lead this organization to the Super Bowl.
While Blake Bortles threw for over 3,900 yards and 23 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, he struggled at times last year. His throwing motion wasn’t clean. He made bad decisions in the pocket and on many occasions missed wide open targets. He also misread coverages and looked overwhelmed at times.
Obviously, the Jacksonville Jaguars still felt it had other needs more important than finding Bortles’ replacement.
“Caldwell, Marrone, and Coughlin concentrated on beefing up the run game with running back Leonard Fournette and offensive tackle Cam Robinson,” said DiRocco.
“They drafted with an eye on special teams, as well, and are going with the play defense, win the field position battle, and ball-control, conservative offense approach, which they believe will help Bortles be better in 2017.”