With the Jaguars on an NFL-worst seven-game losing streak, the team fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and benched quarterback Blake Bortles on Monday, hours after a 24-21 loss to the Bills dropped Jacksonville to 3-8 following a 3-1 start.
The Jaguars rank 22nd in offense and 16th in rushing this season after ranking sixth and first, respectively, last season. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said that Monday's moves were an effort to spark the offense, according to jaguars.com.
Marrone also said he never considered changing just the quarterback or coordinator.
“I was going to do both,” Marrone said. “I’m just trying to get better production in the passing game.”
Cody Kessler will start at quarterback for Jacksonville. A third-round pick fro the University of Southern California in the 2016 NFL Draft by Cleveland, Kessler has played in 13 NFL games and has six touchdown passes and two interceptions. He replaced Bortles in a Week 7 loss to Houston and completed 21 of 30 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown and an interception.
Bortles has started every game for the Jaguars game since Week 4 of the 2014 season. He has completed 223 of 369 passes for 2,572 yards and 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions this season.
Hackett was Marrone's offensive coordinator with the Bills and was with him as offensive coordinator in 2011-12 when Marrone was the coach at Syracuse.
"We would like to thank Nathaniel for his hard work and dedication to the Jaguars organization, and we wish him and his family the best moving forward," Marrone said in a statement. "These are always tough decisions, but as the head coach, I have to do what I think is best for this football team."
Scott Milanovich was named the interim offensive coordinator and will call plays for the Jaguars. Milanovich was promoted from quarterbacks coach. Previously, he served as coach of the Toronto Argonauts from 2012-2016. He was the Argonauts’ assistant head coach/offensive coordinator from 2009-2011 and the Alouettes’ offensive coordinator in 2008. Milanovich played at the University of Maryland, then spent 1996-1999 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hackett was added to the Jaguars staff as quarterbacks coach in 2015. He became offensive coordinator in 2016 after Greg Olson was fired and then retained the job when Marrone was elevated to coach before the 2017 season.
"It wasn't anything negative, [Marrone] just decided to make a move," Hackett told NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. "I guess he didn't think I was good enough, that's the only thing I can think of. It's a shock."
“I knew Doug had thought about it. I guess the football gods had it out for me. We started off hot, had so many injuries, we were a completely different team. Guys busted their butts, but you can only do so much. I wish I could’ve figured something out.”
NFL Media reported Sunday that Marrone is expected back in 2019, despite the Jaguars' tailspin.