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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Tom Coughlin has to know Blake Bortles isn’t answer for Jaguars

The Jacksonville quarterback’s shaky play against the Bills underscores his team’s need for a replacement, perhaps Eli Manning.

Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts

Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts after winning an AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Buffalo Bills at EverBank Field on January 7, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.

Blake Bortles stood at a podium after Sunday’s 10-3 win over the Bills and was asked about the last time he had more rushing yards than passing yards in a game. College? High school?

“Probably never, honestly,” the Jaguars’ quarterback said. “I don’t think that’s ever happened.”

Bortles threw for only 87 yards and ran for 88, a statistical reminder of his team’s most serious flaw. It probably will lead to its playoff undoing, most likely next week against the Steelers.

Although the Jaguars celebrated winning their first home playoff game since 1999, there is lingering anxiety about what lies ahead with Bortles. He isn’t anywhere near a championship quarterback, which is why Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars’ front-office czar, has to seriously consider going outside the organization to get one.

Maybe that quarterback will turn out to be the same one who won two Super Bowls for Coughlin during his run with the Giants from 2004-15.

As you watched Bortles struggle to complete even a short pass, you wondered what this team would be like with Eli Manning behind center. He may not have his fastball from his Super Bowl days, but even the 37-year-old Eli would be far more effective running this offense.

Bortles nearly became the first quarterback since 1958 to rush for more yards than he passed for while throwing at least 25 times. He stopped at 23, and decided as Sunday’s game wore on that scrambling was more effective than passing.

“I reference it to a pitcher,” Bortles said. “Something’s not going right, you don’t have a fastball or a curveball and you have to find another pitch to be able to win. That’s kind of the same thing with quarterbacking. If you’re not able to use your No. 1 option, it forces you into being able to run around and have an option B to help move the ball. Just trying to do whatever I can to help this team score points.”

The Jaguars barely scraped together enough points against the mediocre Bills, and it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll do in Pittsburgh. Granted, they throttled the Steelers, 30-9, there Oct. 8, but Bortles had only 95 passing yards. The key was Ben Roethlisberger’s meltdown with five interceptions. The odds of that happening in a playoff situation at home: not good.

Even if the Jaguars somehow shock the Steelers, you can’t see them going on a Super Bowl run because Bortles would do something to get in the way. He’s not good enough to win a ring, and that’s really all that counts, especially with him due a $19-million salary next season.

Coughlin knows what it takes to get to the top. He knows he needs another Manning, whether it’s the real one or somebody like him. His future as a Giant is uncertain. New general manager Dave Gettleman has the No. 2 overall pick to ostensibly pick his quarterback of the future, so it’s open season on speculation about where Eli will end up. He wants to retire as a Giant but has made it clear that he doesn’t want to watch someone else take over. If his time with the Giants is over, reuniting with Coughlin in Jacksonville would be an enticing possibility.

If Coughlin can’t pry him away, he must look elsewhere. Kirk Cousins likely will be available unless the Redskins give him a long-term deal, and the Chiefs could trade Alex Smith.

Whatever the case, Coughlin has to know that Bortles isn’t the answer. His stat line Sunday again reinforced the obvious.

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