JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback controversy, anyone?
After a second consecutive unimpressive performance from quarterback Blake Bortles in the preseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars could be on the verge of opening up the job and allowing Chad Henne to compete.
Henne got reps with the first-team offense in the Jaguars’ 12-8 loss to Tampa Bay at EverBank Field on Thursday night. The nine-year veteran had a drive late in the first half, and that unit went back out there to start the third quarter. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone told ESPN’s Lisa Salters at halftime that he wanted Henne to start the second half with the first-team offense because he was unhappy with how the unit played.
Marrone said the entire offense was at fault for underperforming, not just Bortles. However, the unit seemed to have a little more life with Henne. Henne’s first two throws on his first drive late were potential touchdown passes that were dropped by Keelan Cole and Allen Robinson.
That was as close to scoring a touchdown as Jacksonville's first-team offense has come in the two preseason games.
QB depth chart: Bortles, entering his fourth NFL season, was a lackluster 8-for-13 for 65 yards, and the first-team offense punted on all four of his drives. It wasn’t entirely his fault: The run game generated no yards on six carries and the offensive line had trouble with the Bucs’ defensive front. Per ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars have three points in six series with Bortles on the field this preseason. Henne’s numbers weren’t much better (6-of-10 for 44 yards), but he saw those two potential touchdown passes dropped in his work with the first-team offense. Brandon Allen went 10-for-14 for 144 yards and a touchdown against the Bucs’ third- and fourth-teamers.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Jaguars looked ...: Awful. The Jaguars were outgained 240-59, with just 1 yard rushing, and had just four first downs on offense in the first half. The longest run of the first half was 3 yards. The offensive line couldn’t create any space, and Bortles missed Robinson twice on deep passes, including one he underthrew badly. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston completed 21 of 29 passes for 196 yards, and the Bucs moved up and down the field with ease. Granted, the Jaguars’ top two corners were not playing (Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye), but the rest of the starting defense was intact.
One reason to be concerned: It’s really hard to find just one because, well, there were just so many. Let’s focus on the defensive front, though, because that was supposed to be one of the defense’s strengths. Defensive tackle Sheldon Day and end Dante Fowler had sacks in the first half, but for the most part Winston had plenty of time to throw, which is why he had only eight incompletions. The run defense struggling was a surprise, too, The Bucs’ first-team offense averaged 5.0 yards per carry and Doug Martin had 30 yards on five carries. Nose tackle Abry Jones, DT Malik Jackson and DE Calais Campbell had trouble getting off blocks, and the Bucs’ offensive line created some big holes at times.
That guy could start: Other than Henne, there weren’t any reserves who made a push to crack the starting line. However, rookie receiver Dede Westbrook lit up the Bucs’ reserves in the fourth quarter, catching six passes for 131 yards. He won’t crack the starting lineup, but maybe he can be the team’s No. 3 receiver with Marqise Lee out with an ankle injury.
Rookie watch: Cole has had a great camp and seems a lock to make the team as the fifth or sixth receiver, but his end zone drop certainly hurts. It wasn’t a great throw -- slightly behind -- but he has caught pretty much everything in camp. He did have a 31-yard punt return to set up the offense at the Tampa Bay 23-yard line
Injury report: RB T.J. Yeldon left the game in the first quarter after suffering a left-hamstring strain and did not return. He gained 2 yards on two carries before his injury. Hamstring injuries can linger for a while, so expect the Jaguars to shut him down for a while. That’s significant because Leonard Fournette already is dealing with a sore foot and did not play against the Bucs. Other starters who missed the game: Ramsey, Bouye and CB Aaron Colvin (still on the physically unable to perform list).
More trouble for Myers: Kicker Jason Myers missed a 40-yard field goal attempt and a PAT on Thursday, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team works out a couple kickers Friday or Saturday and signs one to compete with Myers next week. The third-year pro missed field goal tries of 50 and 53 yards against the Patriots in the preseason opener.