Tom Coughlin sounds noncommittal about giving Jaguars' QB job to Blake Bortles

If Tom Coughlin is excited about the fact that Blake Bortles is Jacksonville’s starting quarterback, he definitely has an odd way of showing it. 

During a news conference Friday, Coughlin was asked directly if he was “committed to [Bortles] as the starter,” and let’s just say he didn’t answer with a resounding yes.

“Well, there’s plenty of work for everybody to do, Blake included,” Coughlin said, via the Jaguars’ official website. “To raise the game to a higher level, it takes all components, though, as well. ... People being in the right place at the right time, the timing, taking care of the football, which is paramount to that position.”

Bortles has been a turnover machine since 2014, when the Jaguars selected him with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. Bortles has led the league in picks once (2015) and finished in the top four during his other two seasons. 

Overall, Bortles has turned the ball over 63 times since his rookie year (51 interceptions, 12 lost fumbles), which leads the NFL over that span. The ugliest part about Bortles’ interception total is that it includes 11 pick-sixes, which means he’s basically giving free points to the opposition. 

“There can be no way the ball is turned over to that extent,” Coughlin said. “I think he’d be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do, but we all have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to put it that way.”

The fact that Coughlin is noncommittal about Bortles’ future in Jacksonville isn’t a complete surprise. Days before he was interviewed to fill the Jaguars’ role of executive vice president of football operations, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that Coughlin wasn’t a “big fan” of Bortles

In January, when Coughlin was introduced by the Jaguars after being hired, he held a news conference where he gave an endorsement of Bortles that wasn’t exactly ringing. 

The reason Coughlin’s noncommittal answer is a big deal is because the Jaguars only have until May to decide if they want to keep Bortles for an extra year, because that’s when they have to make a decision on his fifth-year team option that’s included with all first-round rookie deals. 

If the Jags decide to exercise the option, that means that roughly $19 million would instantly become guaranteed for injury for the 2018 season, meaning if Bortles got hurt in 2017, the Jags would have to pay him $19 million in 2018 no matter what. That’s a lot of money to invest in a quarterback when you’re not even sure you want him to be your quarterback. 

If Bortles is going to stay in Jacksonville, it sounds like new coach Doug Marrone is going to have to convince Coughlin that the 24-year-old is definitely the quarterback of the Jaguars’ future. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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