Jaguars bench Bortles for Kessler; Norwell to IR
Shortly after firing their offensive coordinator, the Jacksonville Jaguars also changed quarterbacks on Monday, with Doug Marrone announcing Cody Kessler will start over Blake Bortles against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
"I'm making this change to give us an opportunity to win a football game," Marrone said. "... We're just not getting the production or the consistency that we needed in the passing game."
The Jaguars lost their seventh straight game on Sunday to the Buffalo Bills, with Bortles throwing for 127 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. During the skid, Bortles has averaged 211 passing yards per game with six touchdowns, seven interceptions and six fumbles, with a rating of 73.9.
Asked if it will be Kessler's job for the season, Marrone replied, "Hopefully he can stay healthy and win games for us, yeah. I mean I'm planning for him to go in there and play."
Marrone benched Bortles for Kessler midway through a Week 7 loss to the Houston Texans and suggested the job was "open" moving forward, but Bortles remained the starter through Sunday. In his lone appearance this season, Kessler went 21-for-30 passing for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
"Cody knows the offense," Marrone said. "He's been in, but he was not really prepared that week, so he'll have a full week of preparation.
"... He's done a good job. Obviously he appreciates the opportunity, and we'll see during the week and see what he does on Sunday."
The quarterback change was announced hours after the team fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, promoting quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich to call plays. Marrone told reporters he felt the need to make both moves rather than making a change at one spot or the other.
Hackett told NFL Network that his firing was "a shock," as he thought he was being called to Marrone's office to discuss a quarterback change.
Bortles, 26, signed a three-year, $54 million extension in the offseason that likely ties him to the Jaguars through 2019. Jacksonville would save just $4.5 million against the cap and incur a dead-money hit of $16.5 million by releasing Bortles after this season, while still owing the QB $6.5 million in guarantees on his 2019 salary.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars also placed left guard Andrew Norwell on injured reserve Monday, a day after he was carted off the field with an ankle injury.
Norwell joined the team in March on what was then the largest contract in NFL history for a guard, a five-year, $66.5 million deal. He started all 11 games this season before the injury, allowing two sacks and taking three penalties.
Norwell is the third Jacksonville starter up front to hit injured reserve this season, joining left tackle Cam Robinson and center Brandon Linder. The Jaguars also have swing tackle Josh Wells on injured reserve. They brought back former guard Patrick Omameh for depth after he was released by the New York Giants midseason.
--Field Level Media
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