The third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, a household name for all the wrong reasons, a should be AFC-championship winner (Myles Jack Was Not Down), and a leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns.
This is Blake Bortles.
He is a wildly inconsistent player. He has shown flashes of absolute brilliance, like the game against the Patriots this season, or the games against the Ravens and Steelers last season.
Bortles has also broken franchise records for the Jaguars, including the most passing yards in a season, and he now has the third highest yards per carry average of all quarterbacks to ever play football. He has the highest yards per carry average of any active quarterback.
Then there is the bad version of Bortles. Like the one that showed up to play in three games against the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Texans.
In those three games Bortles’ quarterback rating averaged out at 63.46 percent, and he was an absolute turnover machine. Is Bortles solely to blame for the turnovers and lack of success on offense? Or are there any unfortunate circumstances hindering his performance?
What circumstances, if any, could explain the poor quarterback play? Could it possibly be that the injury bug hit the Jaguars particularly hard this year?
The injuries started off with the loss of Marquise Lee for the season. Then star running back, Leonard Fournette. Fournette is a beast when he is on the field (which we saw this past week against the Colts). A bruising back that can run straight at a defense and still get the yards needed to continue a drive.
That is just the tip of the iceberg though.
The Jaguars injury list includes their starting left tackle Cam Robinson, and his backup Josh Wells who are now on injured reserve. This is arguably the most important position among offensive linemen on the field.
The Jaguars have also lost Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Niles Paul, and James O’shaughnessy~their first through third string tight ends. They lost Corey Grant, their awesomely quick, and sure-handed, third down running back. Not to mention, the rest of the offensive line has been battling injuries all season as well (Center Brandon Linder was put on IR).
The offense looked like it gained some life a few weeks ago when Cody Kessler finally came in last week. But that was a against a soft prevent defense.
All in all, Bortles seems to be the better player of the two, but the offense doesn’t show that at all.
The offense seemed more excited to play for Kessler. The defense seemed more excited for Kessler to play that weekend too.
This is where the leadership aspect of the quarterback position comes into play. It seems as though Bortles has lost the team. They just haven’t played as well or as energetic when he has been on the field.
They’re dropping passes left and right, looking tired and over it.
That is where a great leader needs to pick the team up, and while Bortles has dealt with adversity well throughout his career, he has not been able to pick his team up and win consistently.
*Stat is among quarterbacks with at least 200 rushing attempts.
However, in last two games since I started writing this article, Bortles has played well since, 50/79 for 606 yards, three TDs, and no picks.
He still is not getting any help from his receivers. The Jaguars lead the league in passes dropped (25).
Meanwhile, Bortles had a potential game winning drive against the Colts this past week, and that is after he lost two more lineman (Linder and Flowers). He got his team in field goal range and made a pass to get another first down, only for Rashaad Greene to cough it up and lose the game.
Is Bortles really the problem at this point? For now, the Bortles era is not over, but it’s getting damn close.