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Jaguars benched Blake Bortles during another disastrous loss, but it didn’t last for long

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Blake Bortles fumbled twice against the Texans before he was pulled. Now he’s set to get the job back in Week 8.

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars did it. They benched Blake Bortles during a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 7. They replaced him with Cody Kessler.

With Bortles at the helm, the Jaguars fell behind 20-0. Kessler couldn’t do enough to bring the team back for a win, but he only turned the ball over once. Bortles did it twice, losing two fumbles.

Kessler’s performance wasn’t enough to secure the job into the next week, though. On Monday, the Jaguars announced Bortles would start a Week 8 game against the Philadelphia Eagles in London:

Bortles completed just six of 12 passes for 61 yards against the Texans before he was benched and the Jaguars offense was shut out in the first half for a third consecutive week. He threw four interceptions in a 30-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5 and only managed to throw for 149 yards in a 40-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6.

Kessler was better than Bortles in the remainder of the game, leading the Jaguars to their only points of the day, a 5-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Yeldon. He finished with 21 completions on 30 attempts for 156 yards, but the game was sealed when a pass deflected off Yeldon’s hands and was intercepted.

The benching came just hours after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that the Jaguars aren’t interested in trading for a quarterback to challenge Bortles:

The Jaguars believe that the quarterback position is the least of their issues. More disconcerting to them is the fact that they have been one of the most injured teams in the league. Key offensive players such as running backs Leonard Fournette and Corey Grant, wide receiver Marqise Lee, tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul, and offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Josh Wells all have missed significant time to injury or are out for the season.

Bortles was again dealing with the struggles of his supporting cast against the Texans. Keelan Cole had two early drops and the offensive line didn’t keep Bortles clean. But he wasn’t doing the Jaguars offense any favors either and his pair of fumbles were costly.

Kessler saw limited in action in 2017, but started eight games during his rookie year with the Browns in 2016. He finished that season with six touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 92.3 passer rating.

Bortles had a much better game against the Texans last time they played, back in December of last season. He threw three touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over at all. That wasn’t good enough for Houston pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who called Bortles “trash” after that game.

This week Clowney was speechless. “I don’t know what to say about Bortles. I thought he was hurt or something,” he said after the game.

There is still some support for Bortles in the locker room, but the decision to start him again probably won’t go over well with everyone.

Bortles was given an extension in the offseason that keeps him under contract until 2021 and would make it costly to part ways with the quarterback in the offseason. Cutting him would save the Jaguars just $4.5 million in 2019 and saddle the team with $16.5 million in dead money. There is the possibility of saving $18 million in 2020 cap space, though.