Jacksonville Sports Day

LOOKING BACK: Jacksonville Jaguars Drama Extends On and Off the Field

File Photo by Nancy Beecher

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In search of a quarterback. In search of an identity.

Three preseason games in the book and just weeks away from the start of another NFL season, fans are buzzing about questions at quarterback, comments about a signing a controversial player and an uneasy feeling that this season.

On Wednesday, head coach Doug Marrone named tenth-year veteran Chad Henne the starting QB for the team’s third preseason game against Carolina. On Thursday, the Jaguars dropped a 24-23 decision to Carolina.

“I thought both quarterbacks were in there.  I’m sure both quarterbacks would have liked to do a better job, but offensively I think everyone needs to do a better job.  Like I said to you guys earlier in the week, I’m not going to stand up here and comment a lot on the two,” Marrone said after the game. ” I’m going to go back and look at things and see where we’re at, but again, I think offensively we didn’t help ourselves.  We weren’t in manageable situations, whether it be through sacks, too many tackles for a loss in the run game.  I think that’s very difficult on whoever is playing quarterback.”

Henne played the first half, completing 8 of 14 passes for 73 yards against the Panthers, including a long completion of 37 yards. In three preseason games, Henne has completed 19 of 30 passes for 256 yards and one TD.

“There’s some good things. Obviously first and second down, we didn’t take care of like we wanted to. We left ourselves in third-and-long situations which is very hard to convert, especially with this defense,” Henne said. “Overall, I think we can score some more points and run the ball a little bit better.”

His counterpart, fourth-year QB Blake Bortles remained positive. Well, sort of when asked about the QB competition.

“I have no idea. I show up tomorrow, tomorrow’s off day so whenever the next day is I’ll show up and when they tell me to go play, I’ll go play for as long as they let me,” Bortles said after the game.

Bortles was 12-of-16 for 125 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown pass to Shane Wynn. Bortles also threw an interception that was returned 48 yards and set up a Carolina score.

Through three preseason games, Bortles has completed 23 of 34 passes for 206 yards, one TD and one interception for an 81.3 passer rating.

The Jaguars have one more preseason game. In Atlanta Thursday against the Falcons.

KAEPERNICK SOUNDING: Friday’s World Wide Web buzz was more about off the field than the QB competition. Owner Shad Khan reportedly told a radio reporter said he would be open to Jacksonville signing free-agent QB Colin Kaepernick.  When asked Khan responded “absolutely.” Tom Coughlin, the team’s executive vice president, has final say on personnel decisions. He declined comment.

GRANT ON THE FAKE: Late in the first quarter, third-year running back Corey Grant took a fake punt 51 yards to the Panthers’ 21-yard line. The drive culminated in a one-yard TD run by eighth-year running back Chris Ivory. Through three preseason games, Grant is averaging 8.7 yards per rush and has totaled 191 rushing yards on 22 carries, including a 79-yard rushing TD against the Patriots in the team’s first preseason game.

TAKE YOUR PICK: With 1:24 remaining in the second quarter, fourth-year cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste intercepted Panthers QB Derek Anderson and returned the ball 11 yards to the Jaguars 45-yard line. Three players later, Henne completed a 37-yard pass to fourth-year receiver Allen Robinson, which led to a 44-yard Jason Myers field goal to even the score at 10.

HEIGHT OF SUCCESS: Second-year wide receiver Shane Wynn, who is the shortest player on the team at 5-6, caught a four-yard fade route for a TD from Bortles with 13:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Wynn finished the game with three receptions for 32 yards, including a long reception of 18 yards.

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