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It's impossible to underestimate the significance of Bortles' fine showings during preseason. They could lead to a shakeup at possibly the most important position on the team.
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has already indicated Bortles has coaches thinking along those lines, per Peter King of The MMQB: "This fanbase saw a quarterback get thrown to the wolves. We don’t need to force it. We never thought when we drafted [Bortles] we were taking him to play now. But nothing is set in stone. We’re giving Blake every chance to make the decision super-hard for us."
As King noted, the first line of Fisch's quote is an obvious allusion to 2011 first-round flop Blaine Gabbert. Although this coaching staff wasn't around when the Jags drafted Gabbert, the calamity of that decision is clearly weighing on minds.
Bortles' positive preseason performances have yielded some recent first-team reps in practice. But these have been few in number, per Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union. That's more proof of the steady approach that coaches are determined to take with Bortles.
However, while caution is often commendable, it is possible to be too careful. This isn't 2011, and the Jaguars aren't the same franchise.
Bradley and general manager David Caldwell are following a clear plan that is creating a genuine sense of optimism for the first time in a long while.
But even with that goodwill, immediate expectations aren't high. It's understood that this is a rebuilding project. Therefore, some rough learning experiences for a rookie starting quarterback can be tolerated.
What's more difficult to accept is needlessly delaying the inevitable. This is supposed to be Bortles' team. Whether it's this season or the next, veteran Chad Henne knows his days are numbered.
If Bortles is proving he can run the offense Fisch wants, then why leave him on the sidelines? It would be better to let a young team grow along with its principal player.
It will stand out that all of the players on this list are rookies. Yet that's good news for a team being totally refreshed under the stewardship of Bradley and Caldwell.
The Jags are entering the 2014 season as a younger, more confident team that is primed to surprise a few people.
All statistics and rankings via NFL.com.