That was among the major takeaways on a busy day around EverBank Field on Monday, with Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell addressing the media in the wake of former Head Coach Gus Bradley being relieved of his duties Sunday.
Former assistant head coach offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone was introduced as interim head coach Monday, and Marrone was asked if Bortles – who has struggled times this season – would continue to start.
Marrone said he and Caldwell have discussed the issue, adding “I am sticking with Blake.”
“Blake will be our starting quarterback,” Marrone said Monday during a news conference in which both he and Caldwell discussed a variety of issues.
Caldwell, who drafted Bortles No. 3 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, said the Jaguars’ next head coach will not have a “mandate” that Bortles remain the starter.
“There won’t be any mandates for anybody who comes in,” Caldwell said. “There are no untouchables for anybody in this organization, including myself. Regardless of how people got here, they have to live up to their abilities.”
Caldwell added that he still believed in Bortles.
“I do still believe in Blake very much,” Caldwell said, “but the head coach will have a lot of input as to who the quarterback will be.”
Caldwell said he will encourage a different perspective regarding Bortles from the next head coach.
“I want the right perspective,” Caldwell said. “We hold him [Bortles] in high regard of what we think his capabilities are. I still believe he has a very high ceiling, but I want to be realistic about it, too. I think a new head coach can bring a different perspective as to what he believes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s somewhere in the middle.”
Marrone on Monday emphasized that he is open to personnel changes, but specified that Bortles would remain the starter.
“[Offensive coordinator] Nathaniel Hackett, myself, Dave – we firmly believe that Blake Bortles is our quarterback right now,” Marrone said. “The quarterback position – when you win, they get too much of the credit, and when you lose, they get a lot of the blame. … It’s a fashion of a lot of people who are around you.”
Bortles has started the Jaguars’ last 42 games, throwing for 66 career touchdowns with 50 interceptions. He set franchise records with 35 touchdowns and 4,428 yards passing last season – also throwing 18 interceptions last season – but he has 3,279 yards and 21 touchdowns passing with 16 interceptions this season.
Bortles completed 12 of 28 passes for 92 yards with no touchdowns and an interception Sunday in a 21-20 loss to Houston. That was his second game in three weeks with a rating below 40.
Bortles after Sunday’s loss expressed a desire to be more aggressive offensively, saying “You have to continue to go make plays.”
“You have to continue to take shots and continue to try to score points,” he said. “You can’t sit there and say, ‘We’ve got a lead; let’s try to hang on to this thing and hopefully we win.’ You have to continue to go play and continue to produce. We didn’t do that.”
Marrone was asked if the Jaguars’ offense had been too conservative in recent weeks.
“I think we all have to do a better job,” Marrone said. “To talk about whether it’s conservative or not conservative or what we’re doing … this is a team situation. A lot of times when you’re not winning, a lot of times people want to say it’s one thing. It’s this position group or that position group, or these positions aren’t pulling their own weight. I’m a firm believer it’s all three phases. We’re all in it together.
“The coaches are in it. Everyone’s in it. So, to say what we’re lacking in – or have we been conservative … make no mistake about it: ‘We’ve taken that field to try to win football games.’ It just didn’t turn out that way.”