JACKSONVILLE – Ya gotta do it, because ya gotta know.
That's not the only reason Blake Bortles will keep starting at quarterback for the Jaguars. The biggest reason is he deserves to be starting. But the "gotta-know" part is a reason, too.
Yes, Bortles is struggling – more than anyone imagined would be the case before the season.
Yes, his accuracy is in question – a lot of other things are, too.
Yes, there is noise in the system.
But yes, yes, yes a thousand times yes he is – and will remain – the starting quarterback for the Jaguars. And one of those reasons is he's still the Jaguars' best quarterback.
And yes, he's the best option to win – and yes, his teammates believe he is the guy.
"At the end of the day, he's our quarterback," tight end Julius Thomas said. "We're going to win with him and we're going to lose with him."
Middle linebacker and defensive captain Paul Posluszny said without question the team is fully behind Bortles.
"He's our guy," Posluszny said. "I think he can feel that from us, because that's the way it needs to be."
Make no mistake:
This is a critical time for Bortles. To say otherwise is to ignore the obvious, and the obvious goes beyond a 2016 statistical line that reads like this: 2,421 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 11 interceptions.
As has been the case since he entered the league in 2014, the interceptions total is too high – and the 14 turnovers for which he has accounted this season is a concern, too.
Beyond the statistics are missed opportunities, with the turnovers and missed opportunities particularly haunting in recent weeks:
*A key turnover each of the last two games, including an early interception for a touchdown on the first drive of Sunday's loss to Houston.
*Multiple would-be interceptions during each game.
*Four long passes missed over the last two games, with Allen Robinson being missed deep against Kansas City two weeks ago and Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee missed against Houston.
It's a lot to digest and it's enough to overwhelm the good things that Bortles has done this season, and make no mistake on this, either:
Bortles has done good things. His come-from-behind victory in Chicago was a gutsy performance, and he has had stretches where he has recovered from adversity and looked like an improved quarterback. Aesthetics aside, he is completing a career-high 60 percent of passes.
His supporters will tell you that he completed 12 of 15 third-down passes against Houston last week, and that nine of those passes converted third down into first. His supporters also will tell you that he has been more accurate this season than critics believe.
None of that is enough to quiet the noise around the Jaguars right now, and that noise is loudly suggesting that the Jaguars start someone else at quarterback. Some want backup Chad Henne. Others want to see Brandon Allen, the sixth-round rookie.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said this week he didn't see that happening, that the team remains confident in Bortles and that he sees nothing "in the future that shows that Blake Bortles is not our guy."
At 2-7, that raised the ire of some fans.
But keeping Bortles in the lineup is something the Jaguars must do. One reason is he remains the team's best option to win. Another is if you bench Bortles you're not benching him for a half or a game. You're benching him as the franchise guy; as antiquated as it may sound, you don't reverse field from that.
As important, though, is this:
Seven games remain in this season, and at 2-7 there realistically is only the remotest chance of saving this season. What you can do is find out of Bortles is the guy.
The belief in the organization remains that that's the case. The belief is he's better than people outside the organization believe, that he can still be the quarterback here for a long, long time.
"When you see his ability, and the receivers he has to work with, you say, 'OK, we know it's coming,''' Posluszny said. "We fully believe that. Things have not gone the way we all hoped and talked about, but that doesn't change our resolve. That doesn't change our belief in anybody.
"We completely view Blake as our franchise guy, and he is our quarterback. No doubt about it."
For many outside the organization, that's a difficult thing to see. The results this season make it fair to wonder about his future, and they make it fair to wonder what the future will hold at the Jaguars' quarterback position.
Who's right? That remains to be seen.
But you have to see it, and the next seven games need to help decide it. That's why Bortles will remain the starter. Ya gotta do it, because you gotta know.