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On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling discussed why Blake Bortles is probably still the best option for the Jaguars…

GARY: The headline of Texans-Jaguars was Blake Bortles, benched in favor of Cody Kessler. Bortles lost two fumbles in this game, one of them was absolutely ugly on a scramble deep in his own territory. It’s unclear what they are doing going forward at this point, but gosh, both of these guys look like really bad options right now.

ANDY: Doug Marrone basically said it was a move to galvanize the offense, which would lift some of the culpability off of Bortles. Have we ever heard a coach, right after benching a QB, basically say it wasn’t all about the QB? I thought the whole thing was weird. When I heard he was benched, I started looking up my Kessler notes: He’s a timing-and-rhythm player, which is a nice way of saying he doesn’t have a big arm. And then I hear what Marrone’s saying. The whole thing just feels like Bortles will be back next week like nothing ever happened.

GARY: That’s my sense, and I think it’s the right move. Cody Kessler belongs in the NFL, but he’s a low-end No. 2 quarterback. He doesn’t offer a whole lot of ability to push the ball downfield or have any sort of explosive presence in an offense. The Jaguars need to be dominant defensively again. They were better defensively in this game—as they should be against that Texans offensive line—but they weren’t quite at the level were a year ago. Jalen Ramsey is getting on the wrong side of the highlights a little too often. If the defense gets going and the run game gets going, it makes it all a little easier to swallow some inconsistent quarterback play. I guess it’s just a question of: Do you take the constant C-minus type performance you get from a Cody Kessler or do you want Bortles, where occasionally you get a B-plus/A-minus type guy and every once in a while you get that F performance?

ANDY: See, this is what it means to be a run-based team and a defense-oriented team. You can play around your quarterback then. You don’t have to ask him to do certain things. This wasn’t necessarily in this game, we’re talking Jacksonville in the bigger picture, but when your defense has been up and down, you have to start asking different things of your QB. We talked about it with Blake Bortles North, Mitchell Trubisky. You start thinking differently and then you start playing differently. Bortles has been such a thinking man’s, mechanical passer. There’s no question that there’s a huge overlap between his mechanics and his comfort level as he sees the field. That’s why he’s such a streaky player. To answer your question, Gary, I think I take the A and the B Bortles with the understanding that sometimes you’re going to get an F. I take that versus finding me a C-minus, maybe even D-plus type of guy, if we’re talking starter expectations. That’s what Cody Kessler would give you. Let’s remember this part too: Jacksonville does not have a great running game. We think they do because they drafted Leonard Fournette high; now it’s Carlos Hyde coming in. He didn’t play today, but he’ll be the guy next week. They don’t have an overpowering offensive line. It’s better than a year ago, but it does not win you games week in and week out so you do have to get something from your QB, which means the talent at quarterback matters.

GARY: They will have to figure it out as they head to London for the early kickoff against the Eagles next Sunday.

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Also on this week’s edition of The Monday Morning Podcast:

1:10—Trubisky’s collapse, Brady and the Pats roll sans Gronk

10:05—After benching Bortles, where to the Jags go from here?

15:42—Chiefs keep rolling up points, try new defensive identity in blowing out Bengals

22:23—Cowboys hang in despite lack of run game, Washington’s formula works again, snap infraction madness

30:12—Rams cruise again, the Gurley for MVP discussion

36:04—Ravens keep Saints in check, but New Orleans hangs on as Justin Tucker misses first PAT

41:34—Cam Newton engineers fourth-quarter comeback, Eagles still trying to find their way

44:27—Titans move the ball, but can’t get the two-pointer to beat Chargers in London

49:47— LIGHNING(ish) ROUND!
• Kicker plays hero as Bucs beat Browns in sloppy game
• Lions get the run game going and then some in Miami
• Vikings D fueling wins again, Jets look handsome in bright green uniforms
• Derek Anderson’s return falls short as Colts blow out Bills
• A look at Byron Leftwich as Cardinals’ new OC

58:55— Andy and Gary each pick their “Thing of the Week” awards

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