Bortles benched, Jaguars implode after 20-7 loss to Texans
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Blake Bortles is no longer Jacksonville’s starting quarterback.
Whether he regains the job in the next week is anybody’s guess.
Bortles fumbled on the team’s third play of each half, leading to 10 points and his benching in a 20-7 loss to AFC South rival Houston on Sunday.
Coach Doug Marrone yanked Bortles after the second turnover — his eighth in three games — and gave former Cleveland starter Cody Kessler a shot.
Marrone gave no indication afterward if Bortles or Kessler would be under center when the reeling Jaguars (3-4) play a “home game” against Philadelphia (3-4) in London next week.
“It’s open,” Marrone said. “Who’s the starter at right tackle? Who’s the starter at center? Who’s the starter at receiver? Who’s the starter? Everything is open. We’ve lost three straight games and we can’t stop shooting ourselves in the foot for lack of a better expression. ... We’ve got to do something, but the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over. Period. That would be the positive of how we can build.”
Jacksonville’s third consecutive lopsided loss triggered quarterback indecision and heated commotion .
When the locker room doors opened for media members, Calais Campbell could be seen holding back fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. It was carry-over from an emotional postgame that included screaming, shouting and finger pointing.
“You all walk in here, you all see how it is in here, you all see how we vibe with each other, you all see how we vibe toward the coaches, you all see how it is,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t. But it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now.”
Ngakoue declined comment, as did safety Tashaun Gipson and cornerback A.J. Bouye.
Their silence spoke volumes for a team that appears to be in upheaval — a huge fall after starting the season with Super Bowl expectations.
“I don’t speak on locker room business,” linebacker Telvin Smith said. “Don’t ask me locker room questions.”
Not everyone ducked the obvious.
“Be frustrated. Be frustrated all week. Change something,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “Change something you need to do. We need to look ourselves in the mirror and just fix it. I can’t sit here and tell you what we need to fix, what we need to do, what needs to be done. I don’t know. I just know that we need to be where we’re supposed to be and just . something needs to change.”
The Texans (4-3) don’t need to change anything after a fourth consecutive victory gave them a one-game lead in the division.
Deshaun Watson threw for a touchdown after making the 800-mile trip to Jacksonville on a private bus to avoid potential problems that flying and cabin pressure might pose to his bruised lung and injured ribs. Lamar Miller ran for 100 yards and a score . And the defense did the rest, forcing three turnovers and sacking Kessler four times.
Houston hosts Miami (4-3) on Thursday night.
“We were down and out and everybody was counting us out,” Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “The thing is, we have guys on this team who understand that early on it doesn’t matter. We just put our heads down and kept working and now we have to continue to do the same thing.”
Here are some other things we learned about the Texans and Jaguars:
Texans safety Andre Hal, who returned to practice this week following treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was in the starting lineup. Hal was diagnosed with the disease in May and immediately began treatment. He received the news of his remission last month. The game was emotional because his father, Andre Hal Sr., died Tuesday, a few days suffering a heart attack.
“This was good for my dad,” Hal said. “He wanted me back on the field and I know he was watching me there today. ... People didn’t really think I’d come back, but I knew I would come back. It was cool seeing everyone kind of show some love to me.”
DeAndre Hopkins won several one-on-one matchups against Ramsey. His best was a one-handed catch for 31 yards along the sideline in the first quarter.
“That catch at the beginning of the game really got us going,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He made some big plays for us. That’s Hop.”
The Jaguars failed to score in the first half for the third straight week, the first time they’ve done that in franchise history. They have been outscored 57-0 in the opening two quarters in losses to Kansas City, Dallas and Houston.