Blake Bortles may be starting Week 8, but the Jaguars are pretty clearly open to Cody Kessler stepping in as the starter.
With a third straight scoreless first half on Sunday against the Houston Texans and his second fumble of the game in the third quarter, Blake Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler.
All things considered Kessler performed well, going 21-for-30 for 156 yards with a touchdown and an interception that wasn’t a bad throw.
On Monday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced Bortles will remain the starter in Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles. That game will be in London, followed by a typical post-London game bye for Jacksonville.
Bortles’ hold on the starting job is clearly tenuous, finally, and as he has started turning the ball over left and right again he was begging to be benched. Marrone finally pulled the trigger on Sunday, even if Kessler is not a long-term answer himself.
But even with Bortles keeping his job this week, Kessler will apparently start getting some practice reps with the starters.
If (when?) Bortles falters again, Kessler will be better prepared to see action again as soon as next Sunday in London. Over a Week 9 bye, barring a trade for a quarterback, a full shift to Kessler as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback could come.
Kessler played in nine games and started eight for the Cleveland Browns as a rookie in 2016.
He went 0-8 as the starter for a 1-15 team, with a couple of concussions mixed in, but his numbers were pretty solid (65.6 percent completion rate, 92.3 passer rating, six touchdowns and two interceptions).
Jacksonville’s issues offensively so far this year are not all on Bortles, he’s just the poster boy for the ineptitude and the easiest available scapegoat.
The team will surely look to replace him in 2019, even if it will hurt a little salary cap-wise, and Kessler is lined up to get a chance to step in before this season is over.