Blake Bortles August 2014

While the Jacksonville Jaguars are sticking to the plan of starting Chad Henne at quarterback for the 2014 NFL season, rookie Blake Bortles is making it hard for them to stand by that.

Bortles has been looking mighty impressive throughout the NFL preseason and during training camp, and some are saying that the third overall pick from this year's NFL Draft should be given the starting nod right now.

Based on the recent success of starting rookie quarterbacks from the get-go compared to last decade, it may be only right to start Bortles now.

From Ben Volin of the Boston Globe:

Consider that from 1990-2007, only eight quarterbacks started in Week 1 of their rookie years: Jeff George, Rick Mirer, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf, Peyton Manning, Quincy Carter, David Carr, and Kyle Boller. Other than Manning and Bledsoe, it’s not exactly a distinguished list. Carr is the shining example of how to ruin a quarterback by playing him too early.

But from 2008-13, 14 quarterbacks started in Week 1 of their rookie years, and seven took their teams to the playoffs: Flacco, Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Andy Dalton, Griffin, Luck, and Wilson. Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, and Ryan Tannehill also have been starters since Day 1.

It's still possible that the Jags could end up starting Bortles on Week 1, but the chances are very unlikely still at this moment. The best bet is if Bortles starts after a couple of weeks into the regular season, or if Henne plays terrible or gets injured.

And as ESPN's Michael DiRocco notes, Bortles' improved play is likely because of the fact that he knows he is not expecting to start right away.

The Jaguars believe that committing to Henne as the starter has put Bortles in a situation that has allowed him to learn the offense faster, begin to fix some fundamental and footwork issues, and make quicker-than-anticipated strides. They may be correct. It’s much easier to make progress when you’re not under pressure to reach a certain level by a certain date. Relaxed learning generally produces better results than someone standing over your shoulder pushing you ahead. That’s why Bradley isn’t budging. Henne will be the starter when the Jaguars open the season at Philadelphia on Sept. 7. Bortles will be the backup. He’ll have to know the game plan and be ready to go into the game if needed, but his No. 1 priority is to continue to progress. The Jaguars will eventually make the change, though. Bortles’ development will hit the point where he gives the team a better chance to win games than Henne. Maybe it will be next season. Maybe it will be after the bye. Maybe it will be Week 4. No one knows when the rookie will reach that point, but the Jaguars believe not pushing him to get there will make it arrive sooner. And they’re being stubborn about it.

We'll see when Bortles ends up starting. If I were Jags, I'd do it right away. I would do the same with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns regarding Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel.

But we'll see if these teams' current plans end up panning out once we dive into deep into the regular season.


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