Blake Bortles benched for Cody Kessler, the former Browns QB who is 0-8 as an NFL starter

The Jaguars finally appear to be out of patience with quarterback Blake Bortles, who was benched in the third quarter on Sunday against the Texans, after another uninspired effort. In 2.5 quarters of work, Bortles was just 6 of 12 for 61 yards, no touchdowns and two lost fumbles. Jacksonville trailed 20-0 at the time and replaced Bortles with Cody Kessler, the third-year player out of USC who was originally drafted in the third round by the Browns.

As a rookie in 2016, Kessler went 0-8 as Cleveland’s starter though he didn’t start a game last season when the team went 0-16. He signed with the Jaguars in the offseason and now, after Bortles’ latest frustrating performance, he finds himself under center for the first time in Jacksonville.

And perhaps it’s not surprising that on Kessler’s second drive, he led the Jags into the end zone.

In February, the Jaguars gave Bortles a three-year, $54 million contract extension, based in part on his post-season play that helped the team to the AFC Championship Game.

But the 2018 season has not been kind to Bortles, who came into Week 7 ranked 26th in value per play, according to Football Outsiders’ metrics, just ahead of Eli Manning. While that might not get you benched in New York, where the playoffs are a distant memory, it certainly will in Jacksonville, where the AFC South is wide open.

Coming into Sunday’s game, Bortles was completing a career-best 61 percent of his throws with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions, but he’s had six turnovers in the last two games — convincing losses to the Chiefs and Cowboys — in addition to two more turnovers on Sunday against the Texans.

As a rookie in 2014, Bortles ranked dead last in total value among all quarterbacks. He improved to 25th in total value in 2015, when he threw 35 touchdowns along with 18 interceptions and five lost fumbles. And if 2016 was among his most disappointing — Bortles had 23 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and six fumbles and there were constant calls to bench him for Chad Henne — last season was his most encouraging. 

That success, it appears, was short-lived. 

And now the Jaguars find themselves in the familiar position of needing a franchise quarterback because it’s hard to imagine Bortles, now midway through his fifth NFL season, is even good enough to consistently perform at a replacement-player level.

You can follow all the action in the Texans-Jaguars game with’s GameTracker.

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