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Blake Bortles Blames Benching on His Poor Play, Losing Games

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 25, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently made the decision to bench quarterback Blake Bortles in favor of backup Cody Kessler for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, and the former starter isn't making any excuses. 

"I put myself in this position and I didn't play good enough," Bortles said on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Michael DiRocco. "Didn't win football games. Couldn't find a way to get it done. And when that happens, it's a business and everybody understands that. I don't think there's anything personal involved. As a quarterback, I think you have one job and that's to win a football game. And if you don't do that, your time's probably limited.

"I always felt good. I felt confident in the guys we had out there. We've had a ton of guys go down and that's part of football, it's part of the NFL. And the guys that stepped in, I think did a good job. It was never a confidence issue. It was just a lack of execution and getting it done."

Bortles was benched less than one year removed from an appearance in the AFC Championship Game. After getting off to a 3-1 start, which included a 31-20 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 2, Jacksonville (3-8) has lost seven games in a row.

Meanwhile, Bortles is completing a career-high 60.4 percent of his passes on the season for 2,572 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. During the seven-game skid, he has just six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Only once has he thrown for multiple scores in a game during that span.

Kessler previously replaced Bortles in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans back in Week 7. However, Bortles was back under center the following week.

The quarterback position has hardly been the only issue in Jacksonville this season, though. The Jaguars led the league in rushing in 2017 (141.4 yards per game) but are just 16th in that category in 2018 (114.2). Running back Leonard Fournette has been limited to just five games this season due to a hamstring injury and has been suspended for Sunday's game for his role in an on-field altercation last week.

Not only that, but after finishing second in scoring defense (16.8 points per game) a season ago, the Jaguars defense has taken a step back by allowing 22.1 points per game this year. 

Those struggles have only put Bortles even further under a microscope. And thus far, he hasn't delivered.

The third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Bortles received a three-year, $54 million extension this past offseason after helping his team come within one game of the Super Bowl last season. This demotion, though, puts his future in Jacksonville in doubt.

"I think that is definitely big-picture, but not necessarily something that I'm worried about right now," Bortles said, per DiRocco. "I'm just thinking about how can I go and help these guys. How can I help Cody or help [quarterbacks coach] Scott [Milanovich] or whoever it may be and try and win a football game and let the rest of it sort itself out when the season's over."

Whether Bortles ever steps on the field in a Jaguars uniform again may depend on how Kessler, who went 0-8 as the starter for the Cleveland Browns in 2016, performs.