Time For Blake Bortles To Step Up [Opinion]

Two years ago, it appeared that Bortles had a breakout season, but the raw stats were better than they seemed. Him throwing for over 4,400 yards that season was overshadowed by the fact that he still threw eighteen interceptions and the Jaguars only finished with five victories while he started all sixteen games.

Last season was even worse. Bortles again started all sixteen games and the Jaguars regressed, winning only three of those contests in a year where many, during preseason, had mentioned them as a possible playoff team. His play was worse than the disappointing final numbers, because he was dreadful during the first half of games and often padded stats late in blowouts.

Bortles has been so unimpressive that head coach Doug Marrone has said that there will be a quarterback competition between Bortles and backup quarterback, Chad Henne, another notorious underachiever. Henne, who is a former second round pick having been taken by the Miami Dolphins in 2008 is entering his tenth season in the league and his sixth with Jacksonville. Doug Marrone has indicated that he plans to split first-team reps between Henne and Bortles leading up to the season opener against the Houston Texans.

The 2017 season will be the fourth for Blake Bortles, who was selected by the Jaguars with the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The fourth season into a career should be a time when NFL players really begin to carve out their own niche in the league and establish themselves as the players they will most likely be for the rest of their careers.

Jaguars need big improvement from Bortles after 2016 regression [Image by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]

Blake Bortles has yet to prove that he has the skills to take his team to the next level. When a report surfaced a few weeks ago about a practice session in which Bortles threw five interceptions, Jags head coach Doug Marrone only added to the angst that fans of the team were already feeling when he spoke of scaling back the playbook.

“We’re going to look at it. We’re going to look at those plays. If there’s any struggle or things we don’t like, then obviously we’re going to be smart enough to throw that crap out.”

To me, that sounded a bit strange. Statistics for NFL practice sessions are not generally kept, and rarely make headlines on their own. It’s also a little unusual for a coach to comment so forcefully and specifically about the one-day practice performance of an individual player. This session took place in July, and Marrone was already talking about taking stuff out of the playbook because Bortles can’t run it. Entering his second season in the same system with the same head coach, one would think the quarterback would have a better grip than that on how to run the offense.

Blake Bortles must demonstrate he has full grasp on Jags offense [Image by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images]

Last night’s preseason game against the Buccaneers was another uninspiring outing by the Jaguars’ young signal caller. Sure, he completed a respectable eight out of thirteen passes during the exhibition, but the one pass he had to complete to not only build his own confidence but begin building his team’s confidence in him, he underthrew a wide open Allen Robinson who had gotten behind the defense on the play. The fans of Jacksonville let Bortles know how they felt as he walked off the field.

[Featured Image by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images]