The original plan was that the Jacksonville Jaguars start Chad Henne at quarterback to begin this season while Blake Bortles takes him time to develop. The training camp and preseason performances might make it a bit more difficult to carry on with that plan.
There’s no exact science about how to handle the rookie quarterback. Some seem to fit perfectly into that role, while others struggle and sometimes fall out of the league because they were rushed too soon. A lot of it has to do with the team and the system that is there to support the player, such as the one Russell Wilson had when he successfully became the Seahawks’ starting quarterback in 2012 despite being a third round pick and seemingly a long shot when training camp began.
Numbers show that from 1990 to 2007 only eight quarterbacks started in week 1 of their rookie season – Peyton Manning, Jeff George, Rick Mirer, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf, Quincy Carter, Kyle Boller and David Carr. Except for Manning and Bledsoe, the career of the others aren’t exactly memorable and David Carr is often mentioned as the epitome of a quarterback who had his career ruined by being thrust into a starting role too soon.
However, the last few years have changed that trend: Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Mark Sanchez, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford and Ryan Tannehill have all been starting since day 1. For most of them it’s too soon to suggest if their careers are going to be remembered as great, but except for Sanchez who seems to be one the wrong end of his career curve, the rest have done quite well for themselves and their teams.
Maybe Bortles has actually gained from being named a backup early on by Gus Bradly. A coach is allowed to change his mind, obviously, and possibly putting Bortles in a position with less pressure, giving him a chance to learn and work on his fundamental problems resulted in making him much better equipped to handle being a starting quarterback when the opportunity comes. From what we’ve seen in the preseason he seems ready.
Chad Henne is still the most likely player to start for the Jaguars when the season kicks off for them in Philadelphia. However, it’s not a job set for a season, and there’s a chance that while Bortles continues to develop and learn the offense by watching in games, he’ll be ready to start a month or maybe a bit more into the season, which right now seems to be the gameplan for the organization.