Chad Henne to start Jaguars' third preseason game vs. Panthers

It’s seemed like only a matter of time forever.

And now it’s finally happening.

Jacksonville is officially exploring a quarterback change, looking to replace the inaccurate, mistake-prone Blake Bortles.

Chad Henne will start the Jaguars’ third preseason game, a matchup with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, August 24, per Ian Rapoport:


Rapoport added that both Henne and Bortles will get first-team looks, though:


The third preseason game most closely mimics what to expect once the regular season starts. Most teams try to play as many starters as possible, and the first-stringers usually play into the second or even third quarter, depending on how the top units perform. For Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone, that will mean playing the starters enough to work in two quarterbacks, though exactly how Henne and Bortles split reps remains to be determined.

Bortles has thrown 51 interceptions over the course of his three-year career. He led the league with 18 interceptions in 2015. Last year, Bortles posted the third-worst QBR among qualifying quarterbacks. The Jaguars are 11-34 in Bortles’ 45 career starts.

With a new head coach (Marrone) and a new executive (Tom Coughlin) in Jacksonville, the Jaguars are expected to be a more disciplined team that won’t tolerate Bortles’ mistakes the way previous regimes have. The team drafted running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick this year in an effort to turn more toward a run-heavy offense. They also drafted Cam Robinson in the second round to shore up the left tackle spot. There is a solid, if unspectacular, amount of talent up and down the roster on both sides of the ball. At the most important position, though, the Jaguars have run out of patience.

Chad Henne might be the man to finally replace Blake Bortles. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

Despite the new faces, Bortles’ struggles have continued this year. On Aug. 18, Marrone officially put Bortles on the hot seat immediately following an underwhelming performance in the second week of the preseason. Bortles completed 8 of 13 passes for 65 yards, and most of the yards came after the catch. Whenever the Jaguars tried to work the ball down the field, Bortles misfired, most notably missing a wide-open Allen Robinson on two separate occasions.

Henne, 32, hasn’t thrown a single pass in the past two years. He last played a significant chunk of the season in 2013, throwing 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 13 starts. Though he’s clearly not the long-term answer, he’s not Bortles, and that’s certainly working to his advantage. And unlike Bortles, Henne has performed this preseason, completing 11 of 16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown across the two games.

The game will likely serve as the last chance for Bortles to show he can play NFL-caliber ball and hold on to Jacksonville’s starting job. First-stringers almost never play in the fourth preseason game.