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Jacksonville Jaguars cannot afford to start Blake Bortles

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Typically, a 44-17 home loss to the Indianapolis Colts would not live long in the memory of a fanbase.

For Jacksonville Jaguars fans though, a week three hammering from Andrew Luck and the Colts offense will not be quickly forgotten because, it marks the first time they have seen rookie first round, third overall draft pick Blake Bortles take the field in a competitive NFL game.

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If you look at Bortles' stat line you can see that he enjoyed an encouraging start to life in the NFL. The rookie completed 14 of 24 passes as he threw 223 yards, two touchdowns for two interceptions. This was a huge upgrade on ex-starter Chad Henne who against the Colts was 4/7 off attempts throwing for a meagre 33 yards.

Poor Performances forced Gus Bradley's hand

It wasn't just the poor performance against the Colts however that led to Bortles' introduction. The Jaguars had been outscored 105-10 over the previous eight quarters of football. It is figures like that forced Gus Bradley's hand making him abandon the Jaguars pre-season plan to sit Bortles for his entire first season giving him a year to develop.

It is a decision that many NFL coaches would have made. After all the NFL isn't a business that give coaches time to build and being outscored by 95 points over 120 minutes of pro-football is an effective way to convince the owner to bring someone else in.

Benching Henne and bringing in Bortles then is a decision very much in the favor of Gus Bradley and the other coaches. However, it is not in the interests of Blake Bortles or the long term interests of the Jacksonville franchise.

Starting Bortles is a mistake

Many if not all of the of the Jaguars problems start and end with the offensive line. It was a poor unit last season. Pro-football focus ranked it the 31st worst in the NFL and it has been just as bad this season.

So porous is the Jaguars offensive line that already in two and a half games of football Chad Henne has been sacked 16 times. Against the Colts the Jaguars offensive line gave up four sacks (three on Henne one on Bortles) and seven QB hits.

Even worse for the Jaguars the defenses they have been facing do not have great pass rush ability. Heading into the week 3 matchup the Colts defense pass rush was ranked as the 32nd best by footballoutsiders.

If they have been this bad against weaker pass rushes how will they be against defenses with strong pass rush attacks? The answer is badly and this is why Bortles should not start.

Great potential, but too soon

Bortles has shown tremendous promise so far. He looked very good in pre-season and his half against the Colts showed that he is an upgrade over the hapless Henne. However, Bortles is not Andrew Luck. He isn't going to win games for Jacksonville in his rookie year.

Instead, if Bortles is put behind this Jacksonville offensive line he is going to get hit hard by angry linemen over and over again until he starts seeing ghosts in the pocket and his effectiveness as a QB is gone before his career has even properly started.

Keeping Bortles off the field may be painful for the Jaguars and their fans but they cannot afford to waste a third overall draft pick by putting him behind this offensive line. It may mean essentially abandoning the season three games into it but the Jacksonville Jaguars cannot afford to start Blake Bortles. With this offensive line in front of he might just get killed.

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Andrew Luck
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars

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