While the question today is “Will Blake Bortles play?” Perhaps the real question is “Should he?” Suffering a mid-foot sprain against Baltimore last week, Bortles finished the game but afterwards was in the locker room and in his press conference wearing a protective boot. He didn’t practice early in the week but was “limited” in practice leading up to tonight’s game. Officially the Jaguars have him listed as “questionable” which is defined by the league as about a 50% chance he’ll play. Bortles said in the locker room that, if he could, he’d upgrade himself to “probable” giving him a 75% chance to play. Head Coach Gus Bradley admitted he’s leaning toward letting Bortles play against the Titans.
“He’s really progressed,” Bradley said on Wednesday noting Bortles performance in practice. “He’s gotten a lot better and with another day, we’ll know. We’ll have him run around before the game and see how he does. But we’re leaning toward having him play.”
Having a short week has made this a tough decision for the Jaguars. If the game was Sunday, Bortles would have recuperated enough to play. But with a quick turnaround, he’s still treating that foot a bit gingerly. If he’s not somewhere north of 90%, he shouldn’t play.
At 2-12, the Jaguars aren’t going anywhere and while they’re not officially looking toward next season, the final two games are good evaluation exercises for the coaching staff to see which players they’re going to take forward to try and be competitive in 2015.
And then there’s the issue of the Draft.
With two quarterbacks expected to be in demand at the top of the draft, Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta and Jameis Winston, there will be teams willing to get to the top two picks in order to try and solve their quarterback situation. Of all the Jaguars needs, quarterback doesn’t seem to be one of them. So having one of those picks could be valuable on the trade market, allowing the Jaguars to acquire more picks, move down in the first round and still take a player who can step in and help right away.
So while Indianapolis fans were willing to have the Colts “Suck for Luck” should Jaguars fans be “Shameless for Jameis?”
“That’s not going to happen,” Jaguars DT Sen’Derrick Marks said this week when asked about tanking for a higher draft pick. “That’ll be unacceptable. Not just for here but for how people view you in the league.” By the way, Marks is reportedly in line for a $600,000 bonus if he can record 1/2 of a sack over the next two games. He’ll be playing like a beast. (And should go to the Pro Bowl).
And then there’s the issue of what motivation the Titans have tonight as well. Also with two wins, Tennessee is in contention for the top pick (research indicates the Jaguars have the best chance for #1 at just over 32%) and could use a quarterback to settle their situation at that position. Despite picking Zach Mettenberger in the 6th round last year, Tennessee isn’t committed to him as their long-term solution.
So look for effort tonight on the field, especially in the second half. If one team or another jumps out to an early lead, does it matter enough on the field to still hang in there? That’s a more likely scenario if the Jaguars take a lead, playing at home and still learning. If the Jaguars are behind, they’ll still play hard, looking for solutions, particularly on offense.
We’ll update you on the Bortles situation beginning on News4Jax at 5pm and on our pregame show live from the stadium starting at 7.