I’LL be honest, I’m still learning a lot about the NFL. I only really started following the sport the year that Malcolm Butler became an overnight hero winning SuperBowl XLIX for New England. Since that 2014 season, I have learned a thing or two, like how Tom Brady is really, really good at playing quarterback and that Blake Bortles is really, really bad at playing quarterback. Or is he?
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SINCE he entered the league in 2014 only Philip Rivers (59) has thrown more interceptions than Sir Blake Bortles (58). It’s not just the turnovers though it’s the embarrassing way that Bortles has gone about his business with his comically bad play glaringly on display in Jacksonville’s 3-13 season last year.
NOT even Bortles teammates had his back entering preseason.
AND in case you need any more proof as to why Allen Robinson isn’t happy with Bortles as his quarterback…
YET, presently at 7-3 the Jags are in the driver’s seat to claim the franchises first AFC South banner since they joined the division in 2002. So just how is Blake Bortles doing it? Well, to be honest, he isn’t. Doug Marrone has built a game plan around getting the ball out of his hands and relying on their run game. And so far, it’s working.
BORTLES is attempting the fewest passes per game of his career so far (31.5) through Jacksonville’s first 10 games, giving him fewer chances to make a mistake. Of course, they have had the luxury of a stellar run game that has allowed them to still put a winning score on the board. Led by rookie phenom Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars have more rushing yards than anyone else in the league right now, averaging over 160 yards on the ground every game.
Image from deadspin.com
THEY can thank their defense for helping disguise Bortles as an adequate QB too. Jacksonville spent big on their defensive unit and they are reaping the rewards from their purchases early on. Their powerful D-line has quarterbacks keeping their head on a swivel anytime they take a snap and if they don’t get it off quick enough, well there’s a reason they are being called Sack-sonville.
WITH 40 sacks so far (best in the league) opposing play callers are under immense pressured to get rid of the ball before it’s too late. Sacks aren’t the only defensive stat Jacksonville lead the league with though. They have kept opponents to the fewest amount of total yards, give up the fewest amount of points at just 14.1 points a match and they own a higher turnover differential (+11) than any other NFL team.
Image from blackandteal.com
BUOYED by that dominant defensive unit the Jaguars might just be the third best team in the AFC this season. We saw what they did to the Texans in the opening week and how they continued to build momentum peaking with a 30-9 win over the now 8-2 Steelers in Week 5. Only two of their remaining foes has a winning record with one of them the Titans, who they meet in Week 17 in a potential division decider.
REGARDLESS of how they close the season I need to go on the record and say that I am not a believer in Blake Bortles being successful. In fact, I’m tempted to make a hefty wager that sooner rather than later we will see the true Bortles throwing interceptions to wide open defenders. For now though, I can’t fault Jacksonville for tricking us into thinking he is good. Not SuperBowl winning good (let’s not be crazy), but still good enough for the Jags to turn some head in the playoffs.
Banner from bigcatcountry.com