JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Blake Bortles’ career in Jacksonville could be nearing an end.
Coach Doug Marrone opened up the team’s quarterback job after Bortles’ latest inconsistent performance Thursday night, giving Chad Henne a chance to start.
“I’m looking for someone who is going to lead this offense,” Marrone said. “I’m not happy with the performance. I’m not going to sit here and BS anyone. Everyone saw it out there. Whatever you want to call it, I’m still trying to evaluate who the best person is at that position.”
Bortles completed 8 of 13 passes for 65 yards in a 12-8 preseason loss to Tampa Bay and headed to the sideline after four possessions that ended with punts. He missed Allen Robinson on two plays, including a woefully underthrown ball down the seam.
“Just didn’t make a whole lot of plays,” Bortles said. “Missed a couple of throws down the field, and we were very stagnant as an offense.”
Henne got some work with the first-team offense, fueling speculation that Bortles had lost his grasp on the job. Even though the move had been planned beforehand, it gave the appearance that Marrone and football czar Tom Coughlin had wavered in their commitment to Bortles. Marrone confirmed it after the game.
“We’re going to figure this thing out,” Marrone said. “It’s just simple. I’m not going to try to make this thing complicated. I’m looking for the best person to lead our offense.”
Marrone and Coughlin had publicly supported Bortles all year, even picking up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract. But Marrone pulled the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft last week following two interceptions. Marrone said Bortles’ “arm looked tired.” Bortles denied having any issues.
Bortles doesn’t have a touchdown or a turnover in two preseason games.
“It’s hard to not hear people booing,” Bortles said. “But if they’re cheering or booing, it’s kind of irrelevant, at least for me it is. I think you’ve got to treat adversity and prosperity the same way. They’re not booing for no reason. They’re booing because you didn’t do your job.”
Henne’s first pass should have resulted in a touchdown, but Keelan Cole dropped it at the goal line. Henne finished 6-of-10 passing for 44 yards.
The Jaguars also could have a kicking competition.
Jason Myers missed a field goal and an extra point. He has missed three of four field-goal attempts in two exhibitions. The Jaguars don’t have another kicker in camp, but that could change Friday.
“I think that’s something that we’ll talk about,” Marrone said.
Jameis Winston continued his solid preseason, completing 21 of 29 passes for 196 yards for Tampa Bay.
Winston had two passes dropped, including what would have been a 43-yard touchdown strike to Mike Evans in the first quarter.
The Buccaneers scored on their first three possessions, getting a short touchdown run from Doug Martin and two field goals from Nick Folk. Tampa Bay dominated Jacksonville in two quarters that featured mostly starters, outgaining the Jags 240-59 and looking like the much better team.
“We’ve got to finish,” Winston said. “We’ve got to have touchdowns in the red zone.”
Coach Dirk Koetter praised Winston’s performance aside from an ill-advised throw that ended up being a sack.
“Other than that one play, he was extremely sharp,” Koetter said. “But we have extremely high standards for him as he does for himself. He took us right down the field, had a lot of run checks, converted on third downs. He did the things that quarterbacks like him are supposed to do, except for one play. … Elite quarterbacks don’t make that play.”
Bucs kicker Nick Folk, who won the job last week after the team waived former second-round draft pick Roberto Aguayo, had an extra point blocked by Calais Campbell. He also missed a 47-yarder wide right in the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers played without two starters: cornerback Brent Grimes (leg laceration) and linebacker Devante Bond (sprained knee). The Jaguars were without rookie running back Leonard Fournette (foot), receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) and their top three cornerbacks. Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin did not dress.
Tampa Bay: Starting right tackle Demar Dotson left the game with a groin injury and did not return. Cornerback Josh Robinson injured a hamstring.
Jacksonville: Running back T.J. Yeldon injured his left hamstring and did not return. Cornerback Charles Gaines injured his right eye.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.