Kessler to start Sunday against Colts; Report of Torn ACL False

Blake Bortles will return as starting quarterback after Cody Kessler suffered an ACL tear in practice on Thursday. Photo: James Crichlow/Jacksonville Business Journal. See the rest of the photos here.

By Dustin Fletcher |

Sunday, Jacksonville will host Andrew Luck and the division rival Colts at TIAA Bank field at 1 p.m.

Just a few weeks ago, the Jags lost 29-26 to the Colts in Indianapolis in a day where the team gave up 29 first half points.

They recovered in the second half by giving up just 60 yards and zero points in, so the team should look to replicate that form.

There will be one massive change for this game. Leonard Fournette will be inactive this Sunday for a single game suspension he must serve for punching Bills linebacker Shaq Lawson.

Most notably though, Blake Bortles was benched for the second and final time of the season, as Cody Kessler was named the starter for the remainder of the season.  This move also came with Monday’s firing of Nathaniel Hackett and the promotion of Scott Milanovic from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator for the interim period.

As a starter, Kessler has an 0-8 career record from when he started for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.

This season, Kessler played the majority of the second half against the Houston Texans in Jacksonville in a 20-7 loss. He threw the only touchdown of the game to running back T.J. Yeldon. After relieving Bortles of his duties, Kessler threw for 156 yards on 21/30 passing along with the aforementioned touchdown and an interception.

He would be primed to put up similar or worse numbers than Bortles, but more than anything, I believe it was the Jaguars front office signifying the end of the Bortles era at their quarterback position. 

There was a report from NFL reporter Ian Rappoport that Kessler tore his ACL in practice Thursday, but it was a false report.

While the Jaguars haven’t won since Sept. 30, the Colts have won five straight games after their miserable 1-5 start to the season.

Indianapolis’ quarterback Andrew Luck has been superb this season and should win the NFL Comeback Player of the year award after missing the entirety of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury. He also should be firmly placed in the conversation for the MVP race this season by throwing for 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 3,112 yards through the air.

The Jaguars should look to do what they usually do and get after the quarterback. This will be especially critical as Jalen Ramsey most likely will not play this Sunday. This will leave an increased workload for cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and D.J. Hayden. Undrafted rookie Quenton Meeks from Stanford participated in practice on Wednesday on a limited basis, and he should see defensive snaps in the slot on Sunday after his stellar performance in London against the Eagles this year.

With a losing quarterback and new offensive coordinator, along with the lack of an identity back in their backfield among other things, I cannot see a win here. The Colts should win this one handily.

Prediction: Colts 24 – Jaguars 10

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