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Monday: Bortles remains starter


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles will remain the Jaguars' starting quarterback.

Head Coach Doug Marrone clarified as much on Monday afternoon, one day after the fifth-year veteran and the Jaguars' offense struggled in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Marrone, speaking on a conference call, was asked if Bortles would be benched.

"We're not going to do that," Marrone said.

Bortles, the Jaguars' starter in the last 71 games, completed 10 of 18 passes for 104 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions in a 20-16 loss at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. The Jaguars led 16-0 with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter but did not produce a first down on four offensive possessions thereafter.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's one-yard touchdown with :05 remaining ensured the Jaguars' sixth consecutive loss after a 3-1 start. The Jaguars produced 243 yards total offense Sunday, the fourth time in the last eight games they have been under 300 yards offense.

"We're looking at everything and how we can do things better," Marrone said. "We played extremely hard. We came up on the short end of the stick. We're going to focus on playing with that same kind of intensity and trying to put a full game together."

The Jaguars (3-7), the defending AFC South Champions, trail division-leading Houston (7-3) by four games and trail second-place Tennessee (5-5) and Indianapolis (5-5) by two games.

Marrone also on Monday said he planned no immediate staff changes.

"In times like this, people are going to ask those questions and we're continually trying to work together to try to figure out a way to put this complete game in – to do a better job from my standpoint, to the coaches, to the players," he said. "Right now … no. I'm not thinking about changes as far as moving people here or there. My focus right now is trying to figure out a way to win a game."

Marrone also was asked about possible lineup changes moving forward.

"You have to see if someone you put in there is going to be better," Marrone said. "That comes during the week of practice. If someone can perform better during that week, we'll be able to do that.

"You can't just replace people just to replace them. You have to replace them with people who you feel are going to do a better job for you."


*Marrone discussed cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who had two interceptions Sunday after a report that morning that the team could consider trading him in the offseason. Ramsey on Sunday said Marrone spoke to him before the game. While Marrone declined to discuss the conversation's details, he said: "When that stuff goes on, that's very difficult for any player – not just a player like Jalen. It's really kind of an unfair thing to do right before a game. The one thing I admire is that didn't get to him. He had a laser-like focus to him and went out and played extremely well." …

*Marrone addressed running back Leonard Fournette' one-yard run on third-and-5 from the Jaguars 30 with 1:54 remaining Sunday. The Jaguars led 16-13 at the time, with the Steelers stuffing Fournette to force a punt. Roethlisberger's game-winning touchdown run ended the Steelers' next possession. Marrone said while his first thought was to pass, the Jaguars' troubles in pass protection and play-action passing contributed to calling a run play with Bortles having the option of handing to Fournette or Bortles running himself. Marrone called those the Jaguars' "two best options at the time … two things that both of those guys do well and a play we ran early in the game and was very successful. We had it in our back pocket and it just didn't work out." …

*Jaguars wide receivers combined to catch five passes for 45 yards Sunday, with rookie DJ Chark Jr. catching two passes for 19 yards, Dede Westbrook catching two passes for 19 yards and Donte Moncrief catching one pass for 11 yards. "We have a level of trust that they can do the job," Marrone said, adding the early emphasis was a running game that produced 179 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries. "Make no mistake about it: Early on we were trying to establish a physical mindset knowing that that's what we have to do to beat a team like Pittsburgh that's a very good team." …

*The Jaguars started Abry Jones at nose tackle on Sunday, moving nose tackle Marcell Dareus to three-technique tackle. Malik Jackson, a 2017 Pro Bowl selection at three-technique, played in a reserve role. Marrone said the Jaguars anticipated the Steelers trying to wear down the Jaguars' interior defensive line down. "We went with the bigger guys on the inside for the normal downs and distances and brought Malik in on passing situations," Marrone said. "He [Jackson] wound up getting seven or eight snaps less than he normally gets." …

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