The debate about whether or not the preseason matters comes up every year and it always ends in about the same place – it kind of does but not really I guess.Some people like Bill Barnwell over at Grantland go to great lengths with some logical reasoning about why the preseason is mostly irrelevant, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to talk about.
If you want more proof about the lack of merit to preseason success, look no further than a recent article from our friends over at Pro Football Focus highlighting the top quarterbacks in the preseason so far.
Their highest graded quarterback of the exhibition season so far is Matt McGloin, followed by Russell Wilson, Joe Webb, and Ryan Nassib. Outside of Wilson, that’s not exactly a group of heavyweights in the quarterbacking arena.
But hey look, Blake Bortles comes in at number 5! Tied with the venerable Scott Tolzien of course.
Breakdown: Two men tied for fifth and both putting pressure on the man ahead of them. For Bortles he’s asking questions of those who thought redshirting his rookie year would be the best option, showing poise in the pocket and a level of accuracy that Blaine Gabbert never reached. While in Green Bay Tolzien is at least putting some pressure on Matt Flynn who seemed to have the backup job sown up.
There are obviously a lot of factors that go into the PFF grades and there are several reasons why those variables shouldn’t be weighted the same in the preseason as opposed to the regular season. If anything, these grades can be used to supplement what we actually see on the field.
It’s not just the statistics that have made Bortles’ performances amazing, it’s the traits he’s displaying when he comes onto the field. Poise, pocket presence, reading the defense, understanding the playcall, and the willingness to look downfield for big plays. His appearance near the top of these rankings isn’t a coincidence and shouldn’t be completely ignored.