Blake Bortles Benched by Jaguars, Cody Kessler to Start vs. Colts

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and quarterback Cody Kessler (6) take the field prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced Monday that Cody Kessler will be the team's starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13, which will send Blake Bortles to the bench.

It's the latest shakeup for Jacksonville's struggling offense. Earlier Monday, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was fired.

"I'm making this change to give us an opportunity to win a football game," Marrone said of the quarterback shake-up, per John Reid of the Florida Times-Union.

Bortles, 26, has been bad this season, throwing for 2,572 yards and 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He's completed just 60.4 percent of his passes (though that's a career high), and his 7.0 yards per attempt rank just 29th among qualified quarterbacks. Pro Football Focus has given him a grade of 68.9, which ranks 24th among quarterbacks.

Suffice to say, Bortles' benching was probably a long time coming:

His replacement, the 25-year-old Kessler, has made one appearance this season, finishing 21-of-30 for 156 yards and one touchdown with one interception in a 20-7 October loss to the Houston Texans.

As Mike Chappell of Fox59 noted, that's been par for the course in Kessler's NFL career:

The decision to start Kessler won't save Jacksonville's season—the 3-8 Jaguars are almost assuredly out of the playoff conversation. But it does raise two larger questions: Will the Jaguars finally move on from Bortles and seek a franchise quarterback this offseason? And why did they sign him to a three-year, $54 million extension in February?

That contract will hurt the Jaguars, even if they cut ties with Bortles, given that $6.5 million of his 2019 salary is guaranteed, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. That's money the Jaguars will have to eat if Bortles' future in Jacksonville is over.

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