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Patrick Daugherty

The Morning After

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Blake Bortles' Benching

Monday, October 22, 2018


Blake Bortles outran his fate for 68 starts. Every time it looked like the Jaguars would have no choice but to move on, he made like Jason Witten and pulled a rabbit out of his head. 87 passing yards in a seven-point home victory over the Bills in the Wild Card round? Here’s 507 combined against the Steelers and Patriots on the road. 176 in an embarrassingly narrow Week 1 win over the Giants? Here, let me deck the Pats again, this time for 376 yards and four scores.


Sunday, the law finally caught up. Losing 20-0 in the third quarter against the Texans, coach Doug Marrone pulled the plug. At that point, the Jags had been out-scored 60-7 over their past seven quarters as Bortles generated one touchdown and turned the ball over three times.


For the season, Bortles is sitting on 10 total scores compared to 11 giveaways. Bortles ripped the Pats for a 111 QB rating and the Jets for 114.8. His third highest? 72.6 against the Titans. That’s not sustainable for anybody, no matter how many Houdinis they’ve pulled or playoff games they’ve put in the #QBWinz column.


Not even Bortles’ new three-year contract — which, signed just last February, includes $26.5 million guaranteed — was enough to save him. The Jags came within a whisker of the Super Bowl last season and can’t continue to let Bortles shot put away games. Maybe he will get another start in Week 8 — the Jags are headed to London to face the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, making it an unideal week to change quarterbacks — but the die has been cast. Once you have been benched once, you will be benched twice.    


Cody Kessler, of course, is not the answer. The 2016 third-rounder has all the hallmarks of a career backup. Humps will not be gotten over with the ex-Brown. But an always-aggressive Jags front office has options if it takes to the trade market for the second time this month. Cleveland’s Tyrod Taylor. Philadelphia’s Nick Foles. Perhaps even the Saints’ Teddy Bridgewater. If you want to get really wild, there’s always Sam Bradford or Eli Manning.


All the Jags know is that it can no longer be Bortles. No more apology touchdowns or Patriots beatdowns. They’ve seen it all before. No matter how hopeful the middle may be, the ending is always the same.   


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Five Week 7 Storylines


Sony Michel injures knee against the Bears. Michel was slow to get in the swing of things because of a summer knee issue. He missed Week 1 and appeared limited in Weeks 2 and 3. So you could say it was a concern when he was in so much pain after going down in Chicago that he threw the ball to the ground, resulting in a Patriots fumble. Michel was eventually helped to the sideline before being carted to the locker room. The early consensus is that it’s not a season-ending issue, but any knee injury is a major concern for a player who was rumored to have a bone-on-bone condition coming out of Georgia. It’s safe to assume Michel will miss next Monday’s game against the Bills. Kenjon Barner helped James White carry the mail in Chicago, but it’s possible he’s replaced by a free agent, perhaps even ex-Pat Mike Gillislee.   


Albert Wilson suffers serious hip injury. Trying to turn a 24-yard catch into a true gamebreaker, Wilson nearly shed a tackle but came down in extremely awkward fashion. It initially looked like he could be dealing with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Instead it was a hip issue, one his agent said will cost him “significant time.” Even if it’s not a season-ender, that likely means injured reserve for a team that is running light at receiver and will need the roster spot. Beginning to excel in a larger role, Wilson’s loss will be devastating for a limited offense that had been relying on his run-after-the-catch skills. It also means the calculus behind trying to trade DeVante Parker ahead of next week’s deadline has grown more complicated. The ‘Fins may no longer have the luxury of shipping Parker out. In the short term, with Kenny Stills also banged up, Jakeem Grant could feature on Thursday Night Football against the Texans.    


Marlon Mack formally establishes control of the Colts’ backfield. Look at me — look at me — I’m the captain now. That was Mack’s Sunday message to Nyheim Hines and company. The second-year pro decked the Bills’ previously-stout run defense for 126 yards on 19 carries (6.63 YPC). 11 of Mack’s 19 totes gained five or more yards, while he’s now posted a YPC of 6.63 or better in back-to-back games since returning from his hamstring issue. Where he once appeared doomed to be a part of an Eagles-style, four-man committee, Mack is now the clear leader of a narrower backfield. He has a dream Week 8 matchup in the pathetic Raiders to show off his big-play chops.  


Kerryon Johnson makes another move in Lions’ backfield. Mack wasn’t the only running back trying to formalize command. Johnson ran all over the Dolphins, rolling to 158 yards on just 19 carries (8.31) as the Lions handled the Dolphins on the road. Johnson’s YPC is now a sparkling 6.43. He just can’t shake LeGarrette Blount, who stayed in involved for 10/50/1 in a game the Lions controlled but never turned into garbage time. Coach Matt Patricia is determined to rotate backs and apparently prevent his rookie from getting overexposed. Maybe that’s the best approach in real life — can that really be said of giving the ball to Blount? — but in fantasy it’s limiting Johnson to mid-range RB2 status when he has shown the ability to be an RB1.  


Keke Coutee aggravates hamstring injury vs. Jaguars. Battling hamstring issues since the early days of training camp, Coutee went down once again on Sunday. He has already said he expects to miss Week 8. Considering his earlier timeline — Coutee was sidelined from early August to late September — he could be looking at a multi-game absence. Coutee’s loss coincides with Will Fuller’s (hamstring) return. Fuller finally looked healthy on Sunday, catching a team-leading six passes for 68 yards. Coutee has made legitimate fantasy noise, especially in PPR, but he could prove to be a tough-luck drop for teams facing bye week crunches.   


Don't forget, for the latest on everything NFL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, or follow @Rotoworld_FB or @RotoPat on Twitter.



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Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Patrick Daugherty



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