When Does Blake Bortles Get the Blame?

Last Word On Pro Football, Parker Hurley

There seem to be two types of people in the world. The people who use fantasy football numbers to determine a player’s value and the people who watch to understand how a player acquired those numbers. Blake Bortles is a perfect example. In 2015, Bortles was the fourth-rated quarterback in fantasy points. People point to two numbers, 4,428 yards, and 35 touchdowns to make a case for Bortles climbing up the list of elite NFL quarterbacks.

When Does Blake Bortles Get The Blame?

However, the Jacksonville Jaguars have had little success with Bortles under center. In Bortles “breakout” year the Jaguars went 5-11. They went 0-6 when Bortles threw for 300 yards or more. Thirteen of Bortles’ touchdowns came when down by 10 or more points. Bortles also lead the league in sacks taken, and threw 18 interceptions, a stat that would have led the league had it not been for the 2015 version of Peyton Manning.

The excuses were built in, though. The defense in 2015 was awful, the offensive line had a couple of holes in it, they had no true running game, and Gus Bradley was a coach on the hot seat. So now that the Jaguars are 0-3 in year three with Bortles, the question becomes when does Bortles get some blame?

Slow Starter

The biggest problem for Bortles is that he is that he struggles in first quarters, and first halves in general. In Bortles’ career, the Jaguars have ranked 22nd and 31st in points in the first quarter respectively. In his career, Bortles has thrown 18 first half touchdowns to 19 first half interceptions. Essentially Bortles digs the hole, and for the Jaguars who have gone 8-24 since Bortles has been drafted, they lie in it with their quarterback.

Lack of Progression

In week three, the Jaguars were handed a home win against a 2-0 Baltimore Ravens squad. The defense had it lapses, it is a young defense, but they held the Ravens to 17 points and turned them over three times.

After a Joe Flacco interception, the Jaguars had the ball around the Ravens 30-yard line. The Jaguars led by two and were easily in field goal range. On a third down, Bortles threw a semi-sidearm pass off of his back leg with absolutely no pressure on him. It got tipped and wound up being intercepted.

Somehow, the Jaguars got the ball back by another Flacco interception. On the ensuing third down, Bortles held the ball too long, stood flat-footed in the pocket and then tried to spin out of a sack at the last second. It resulted in a nine-yard loss and turned a 43-yard kick into a 52-yard kick. To be fair, the kick was blocked in what set up the game-winning drive, but a tougher kick nonetheless. These are the boneheaded moves that show a lack of progression and understanding since his rookie season.

Is Bortles Valuable?

It should not be this hard for Bortles considering the talent in skill players around him. The list of capable receivers is too many to name and is headed by Allen Robinson, a player knows for highlight catches; the tough passes in which Bortles threw. If he is going to be considered a franchise quarterback moving forward, these mistakes are inexcusable and would get any other quarterback buried.

No one was boasting up the Dallas Cowboys defense or Philadelphia Eagles skill players when rookie quarterbacks stepped in and have their teams in winning situations. Kirk Cousins had no run game or a defense when his Washington team was good enough to make the playoffs.

Heck, even Blaine Gabbert has three fewer interceptions and seven fewer sacks through three games, and it is not a strong 49ers line putting him in this scenario. Blake Bortles is a major reason in why the Jaguars are 0-3, and at some point, the front office is going to have to realize this and do something about it. The question is what?

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