No offense to the 32-year-old Tennessee Titans quarterback, who has made just seven career starts, but at one point this season he was the Titans' No. 3 quarterback behind Jake Locker and Zach Mettenberger.
That's a bit befuddling. Whitehurst couldn't beat out one of the bigger first-round quarterback busts of the last decade and a rookie sixth-round pick to be the Titans' starter, but he was able to beat the Jaguars. Whitehurst threw for a career-high 233 yards and didn't turn the ball over in the Titans' 16-14 victory in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 12.
"He's mobile in the pocket and he did a good job of keeping it away from us," defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "He was very accurate. He threw the ball away when he got pressure and didn't throw panic throws into coverage. I thought he played game smart."
That was the first victory for Whitehurst as a starting quarterback since he was with Seattle and beat St. Louis 16-6 on Jan. 2, 2011. He has thrown for 1,772 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions in nine seasons with San Diego, Seattle and Tennessee but didn't throw a pass in the regular season for the first four years of his career.
Whitehurst has never scored more than 17 points in any game he has started and has completed more than 13 passes in any game in which he has played just twice.
As well as the Jaguars have played defensively the past month, it would be discouraging to let Whitehurst put up good numbers again. The Jaguars held Andrew Luck to 68 yards below his average, returned two fumbles for touchdowns against the New York Giants, held Ryan Fitzpatrick to 135 yards passing, and held Joe Flacco to 220 yards and Justin Forsett to just 48 yards rushing.
The Jaguars are already fighting for respect. Losing again to Whitehurst and the 2-12 Titans at home on national television won't help.
Bradley said Wednesday that he’s leaning more toward playing Bortles, but wants to see how the rookie’s sprained right foot handles a light workout several hours before kickoff before he makes a final decision.
Bortles suffered the injury during the Jaguars’ 20-12 loss at Baltimore last Sunday. It came when he was chased down by linebackers Pernell McPhee and Terrell Suggs for a 10-yard loss midway through the fourth quarter. That was the seventh time Bortles was sacked. He limped off the field but remained in the game and was sacked once more on the Jaguars’ final drive.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Bortles has thrown for 2,676 yards and 10 touchdowns with 17 interceptions and needs just 143 yards and four touchdown passes to surpass Bryon Leftwich’s rookie records in those categories. Leftwich threw for 2,819 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2003.
In other Jaguars injury news, defensive end Andre Branch (groin) and linebacker Khairi Fortt (hamstring) are out. Defensive end Chris Clemons (knee) and receiver Marqise Lee (elbow) are probable. Defensive end Ryan Davis (hip pointer), safety Josh Evans (foot), and receiver Tommy Streeter (abdomen) are questionable.
At 21-57 they deserve to be the punch line on jokes about bad NFL football.
The bucket of ice water over the head of Titans fans is that their team is not far behind.
The Titans are only nine games better in the same period, and they account for four of those Jaguars wins -- 19 percent of them.
If Tennessee loses Thursday night at EverBank Field, the Titans will have split with the Jaguars for six consecutive years, which means they will have lost to the Jaguars for six consecutive years.
Jacksonville has been the underdog in 42 consecutive games, a streak that ends with this one.
Two 2-12 teams matched up in a primetime game creates fertile soil for scheduling complaints and jokes.
The Titans don’t really care.
“That’s what they think, some of them are fans, some of them are not,” receiver Kendall Wright said. “If you’re winning they like you, if you’re not, they don’t. Fans are fans, that’s what most of them do….
“But a lot of people will turn the TV on on Thursday because it’s Thursday night football, there is nothing else to watch, why not watch football? We’re going to try to give them a show. With the record we’ve got, we’re still going to try to give them a show and win a game.”
The Titans are hardly going to announce they’re waving the white flag. Fans may want a loss to ensue the Titans outrank the Jaguars for draft position. Players want a win so they outrank the Jaguars in the standings.
“We don’t want to be at the bottom (of the division) at all,” said defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, the team’s best defender.
Said outside linebacker Derrick Morgan: “It’s still a lot to play for, whoever you are. I could see how (people may joke about it), but we’re not focused on that. By this point in the year, anything that comes out about us is going to be negative.
“You can’t buy too much into what the media is saying and that’s being put out there about our team, we’ve just got to focus on getting a win, that’s the main thing, it’s been a while.”
In their latest mock drafts on CBSSports.com, Rob Rang has the Jaguars taking Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory while Dane Brugler has them taking USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams.
Running back Toby Gerhart and receiver Allen Hurns are among the good waiver wire pickups for teams still alive in their fantasy league playoffs, writes SI.com's David Gonds. What he writes about Hurns is a bit surprising: "The rookie out of Miami has 27 targets over the past three games, which is higher than all but 18 other wide receivers, and only 14 of those wide receivers have more catches than Hurns’ 15 in that span."
The Jaguars moved up one spot to No. 30 in the latest ESPN NFL power rankings despite losing to Baltimore.
The Jaguars are having only walk-throughs this week because of the short turnaround before Thursday night's game against Tennessee, writes the T-U's Ryan O'Halloran.
The Jaguars re-signed defensive tackle Roy Miller to a four-year extension.
Today is decision day regarding quarterback Blake Bortles. If his sprained right foot has responded well enough to treatment then it's expected he'll be cleared to play in Thursday night's game against Tennessee. Coach Gus Bradley will speak to the media at 12:45 p.m. ET.
The 2014 season has obviously been disappointing, but there's one thing that would make it even worse: losing to Charlie Whitehurst twice.
The weekly buzz video, in which I talk about the offensive line's issues and how the Jaguars will address those problems, will post at 10 a.m. ET.
However, coach Gus Bradley said Bortles is progressing from a right mid-foot sprain quicker than anticipated.
"Cautiously optimistic," Bradley said. "Tomorrow is a bigger day."
Bortles said he felt pretty good after Tuesday’s walk-through and that he’s confident that he’ll be able to play.
"I think every football player kind of plays through injuries," Bortles said. "I broke some stuff in college and played through that. I think it’s part of it.
“Unless there’s something really, really wrong with you where you can’t play or you’re hurting the team, you should go play."
Bradley said this week is actually a good test for Bortles because he may face this situation again in the future and he needs to learn how to handle preparing while being injured and possibly playing in a game after not practicing all week.
"Somewhere in his career he’s going to be banged up," Bradley said. "There might be a Thursday night game like this and he’s got to learn how to deal with it. Or an injury where it might be a Sunday game and he can’t go on Wednesday or Thursday and he’s going to get Friday’s practice, so that shortened period of time is really challenging for him."
It’s a bit easier this week because the Jaguars’ game plan isn’t going to be overly complex due to the short turnaround. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch likened it to practicing against another team in training camp. Teams just run their offense and defense without specific game planning.
Bortles' injury is similar to, but not as severe as, the one that running back Denard Robinson suffered. Robinson, who was placed on IR on Tuesday morning, suffered a more severe tear of one of the ligaments in his foot. Bortles will not aggravate his injury further if he plays, Bradley said.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have signed defensive tackle Roy Miller to a four-year contract extension through 2018, which locks up the middle of the team's defensive line through at least the 2017 season.
Miller signed the contract, which is expected to be worth roughly $16 million, shortly after practice ended on Tuesday afternoon. The 27-year-old was emotional when talking about how excited he was to remain in Jacksonville.
"I think it's obvious everybody around the league, everybody on this team feels this culture, feels where this team is going," Miller said. "I definitely do and I want to be a part of it. I'm just excited that they extended that offer to me so I can stay out here.
"Everything about this place -- I just want to be here, man. I just want to finish my career here. I'm excited. It's kind of surreal but it's what you work for all your life. I'm just kind of lost for words right now."
Miller spent the first four years of his career in Tampa Bay and signed a two-year, $4.4 million contract as a free agent before the 2013 season. He played through a shoulder injury in 2013 and finished with 25 tackles before having offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum. Miller has 30 tackles, one sack and one pass breakup this season.
Beckham caught 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the Giants’ 24-13 victory over Washington on Sunday, which moved him into the lead among rookies for receptions (71) and receiving yards (972) and into second place with nine touchdowns.
Just engrave the trophy now.
Here is the latest look at the banner class of rookie receivers, which includes two Jaguars. They are ranked by targets, which is a true measure of how much a receiver is utilized. We’re using the qualifier of having a minimum of four targets per game (56 targets needed to qualify):
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina (127 targets): He had the second-biggest week of the receivers on this list, catching eight passes for 104 yards in the Panthers’ 19-17 victory over Tampa Bay – even though he was playing with Derek Anderson and not Cam Newton. Benjamin now has 67 catches and is second among rookies with 952 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo (116): He caught just one pass for 28 yards in the Bills’ 21-13 upset of Green Bay and has 59 catches for 850 yards and five touchdowns.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (105): He caught only two passes for 13 yards, but one was an 8-yard touchdown pass. He leads all rookies with 11 touchdown catches and is third with 948 yards on 59 catches.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (95): His monster game moved him atop the list of rookies in receiving yardage (972) and catches (71) to go along with nine touchdowns.
Jarvis Landry, Miami (93): He moved up to fifth on this list after being targeted 12 times and catching eight passes for 99 yards in the Dolphins’ 41-13 loss to New England. He is tied for the lead among rookies with 71 catches for 672 yards and five touchdowns.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia (88): Matthews was the only active player on the list to not record a catch last week and has 56 catches for 709 yards and seven touchdowns.
John Brown, Arizona (86): He caught just two passes for 22 yards in the Cardinals’ 12-6 victory over St. Louis and has 41 catches for 591 yards and five touchdowns.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville (86): He caught six passes for 70 yards in the Jaguars’ 20-12 loss to Baltimore and now has 46 catches for 636 yards and six touchdowns.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville (80): He’s out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his right foot and finishes with 48 catches for 548 yards and two touchdowns.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans (66): He is out for the rest of the season with a broken thumb and finishes with 53 catches for 550 yards and three TDs.
Taylor Gabriel, Cleveland (62): He caught just one pass for 2 yards in the Browns’ 30-0 loss to Cincinnati and has 32 catches for 554 yards and one touchdown.
Davante Adams, Green Bay (59): He caught just one pass for 6 yards in the Packers’ loss to the Bills and has 36 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns.
Bradley said the Jaguars called a lot of three-step drops because of the Ravens' pass rush (Elvis Dumervil entered the game with 16 and Suggs had 8.5), but Bortles didn't get rid of the ball quickly. Instead of throwing it away when the receivers were covered he tried to scramble or took too long trying to find a second option, and that resulted in a sack.
"You look at it and there’s some three-step drops in there where they covered us pretty well," Bradley said. "The line is cutting and those are types you look at Blake and say, 'You’ve just got to get rid of it.' I think in Blake’s defense is he’s made some plays happen after there’s been a breakdown when he gets out of the pocket, and he made a big play to [Allen] Hurns yesterday doing that. I think at times when it’s not right there he’ll try to extend the play, and a couple of times yesterday that got us in trouble with some sacks."
A very good defensive performance wasted by yet another ugly offensive showing. And, of course, another loss.
Still, there were some notable performances in the Jaguars’ 20-12 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Here’s this week’s top 10, with last week’s rankings in parenthesis:
1. RB Toby Gerhart (9): He averaged 4.2 yards on 13 carries and had two catches for 9 yards in his most extensive action since early in the season. He ran through contact and finally looked like the player the Jaguars thought they were getting when they signed him in March.
2. DT Sen’Derrick Marks (NR): He had the only two hits on quarterback Joe Flacco and anchored a run defense that held Justin Forsett to just 48 yards on 16 carries.
3. QB Blake Bortles (6): He had one of his better days throwing the ball, completing 21 of 37 passes for 210 yards. He held onto the ball too long at times and that contributed to the eight sacks. His only turnover came on the final drive on a fourth-and-19 throw.
4. LB J.T. Thomas (8): He was part of a run defense that held Forsett in check and he produced the Jaguars’ only turnover when he forced fullback Kyle Juszczyk to fumble.
5. S Johnathan Cyprien (NR): He led the Jaguars with nine tackles, had one pass breakup, and recovered a surprise onside kick.
6. WR Allen Hurns (7): Hurns caught six passes for 70 yards including holding onto a ball when he was hammered going across the middle.
7. K Josh Scobee (10): He made four field goals, hitting a pair of attempts from 53 and 45 yards. Plus, he executed a perfect onside kick that Cyprien recovered.
8. WR Cecil Shorts (NR): He was targeted a team-high 11 times and caught six passes for 76 yards. He would have been higher on the list but he had a third-down drop that would have been good for a first down.
9. P Bryan Anger (NR): Not only did he average 53.4 yards on five punts, he also completed a shovel pass to Will Ta’ufo’ou on a fake punt that went for 19 yards.
10. FB Will Ta’ufo’ou (NR): He executed the fake punt perfectly and ran for a 19-yard gain. Coach Gus Bradley said Ta’ufo’ou wasn’t responsible for missing the block that got Anger’s punt blocked.
Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by Pat McManamon (Cleveland Browns reporter) as he talks Johnny Manziel, who was more Johnny Rotten than Johnny Football in his NFL starting debut.
Also, Mike Reiss (New England Patriots reporter) stops by to discuss Tom Brady's slow-motion run that sent a message, while Pat Yasinskas (Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter) opines on whether Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota is on the Bucs’ radar should they get the No. 1 overall pick.
Rob Demovsky (Green Bay Packers reporter) will break down Aaron Rodgers' subpar showing in Buffalo and how it might affect not only the Pack’s shot at landing home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs but also Rodgers’ MVP candidacy. And Josh Weinfuss (Arizona Cardinals reporter) will have the latest on Ryan Lindley's shot at pulling the upset in Seattle and solidifying the Cardinals’ standing as the NFC’s top seed, while Gutierrez will break down the latest with the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh’s future.
Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.
The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars were in a state of denial about their woeful pass protection. O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars denied the offensive line has taken a step back, said they didn't see a problem with having rookie running back Storm Johnson in pass protection and denied there were multiple breakdowns on a single sack.
Instead of sticking with its formula of a food battle from cities represented in Thursday night games and going Jacksonville vs. Nashville, CBSSports.com contributor Mike Freedman instead took a look back at the battles from the season. It included this line: "Instead of having our traditional face-off between Nashville BBQ and whatever it is that could represent Jacksonville ..."
Here's my story about quarterback Blake Bortles taking a pounding all season.
The Jaguars are favored to beat Tennessee on Thursday by 2 1/2 points, which ended the team's streak of being an underdog after 42 consecutive games, writes the T-U's Vito Stellino.
Stellino also sat down with kicker Josh Scobee for a Q&A session in which Scobee talked about how he worked on getting field goal attempts off higher and quicker by using a quarterback net.