Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars nightmare already a reality

That Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had a normal day at practice Monday shouldn’t be newsworthy. It is, though, highlighting one of the more intriguing early-season dramas in the NFL.

Bortles threw five interceptions during the team’s first practice with pads Saturday. In his first days at training camp as the coach, Doug Marrone sounded alarms about the quarterback who’s supposed to be his starter.

“I think any time someone doesn’t perform to what you want to do, you’re concerned about it,” Marrone said, via ESPN. “He’s not the only one that’s out there. There’s some good things.

“We’re going to look at it. We’re going to look at those plays. If there’s any struggle or things we don’t like, then obviously we’re going to be smart enough to throw that crap out.”

Some angst-ridden fans showed up for the team’s second practice Monday with some thoughts on potential replacements, including Colin Kaepernick and even Jay Cutler.

Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin has been charged, as the executive vice president of football operations, with rescuing the Jaguars from a nearly decade-long funk. He was wary about Bortles’ turnovers right from the start. (Bortles has thrown 51 interceptions in 46 games, including a league-leading 18 in 2015.)

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“There can be no way the ball is turned over to that extent, so I think [Bortles would] be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do,” Coughlin said in February. “But we all have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to put it that way.”

The Jaguars have built a potentially great defense and added battering ram Leonard Fournette at running back. Marrone was a comically conservative coach at times with the Bills, and he wants to focus on the ground game to help Bortles. Still, the Jaguars are going to remain a hot mess if the quarterback doesn’t improve.

2015 was Bortles’ “good” season of his three in the league. It also included 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. He regressed in yards, touchdowns and yards per attempt last year, and the Jaguars dipped from 5-11 to 3-13.

The Jaguars are supposed to be one of the NFL’s “it” teams in 2017, a club that could rise from cellar dweller to playoff contender. It’s not going to happen if Bortles doesn’t improve.

If he doesn’t, Coughlin and Co. likely will be looking for a new quarterback in 2018.


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