Luke Sims already highlighted how Blake Bortles was by far the best rookie quarterback this preseason, but the Jacksonville Jaguars as a franchise were the big winners in this year’s preseason campaign. While some people go out of their way to say the preseason doesn’t matter at all, that’s only a half-truth. The win-loss records, final scores, and overall statistics don’t really matter, but the individual performances do matter. That’s why the Jacksonville Jaguars should be thrilled about their 1-3 preseason.
Chris Burke and Doug Farrar over at SI.com recently came out with their winners and losers from the preseason, and they were glowing about the Jacksonville Jaguars and their rookie quarterback.
Blake Bortles should be the new starter in Jacksonville… Bridgewater and Bortles also each tossed touchdown passes — Bortles’ was a gem, a pump-faking 55-yarder on the move to Marqise Lee…
I really thought that of the first-round QBs selected, he was the least ready to jump into an NFL lineup. (Hence my surprise when Jacksonville took him at No. 3 overall.) So far, he has proven all of his critics wrong. The natural gifts — size, arm strength, etc. — were evident throughout the whole pre-draft process. What wasn’t always apparent was how well Bortles would be able to run through progressions and make smart decisions. As evidenced by the long TD toss to Lee, who was at least his second read on that play, Bortles has advanced the mental part of his game in rapid order. He may not be ready to take Jacksonville to the playoffs, but he is plenty capable of starting.
- Chris Burke
Put simply, the Jaguars, a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2007 and put up just six total wins in the last two seasons, are actually on the right track to a better future. The Jags have three players on our All-Underrated Defense this year, and they may have hit the jackpot at the game’s most important position with first-round quarterback Blake Bortles. The UCF alum lit up the preseason with his mobility, arm strength and ability to deal with pressure, and though the team will keep him on the bench until everyone’s sure he’s ready, Bortles appears to be bent on forcing the issue in a good way. If everything comes together, the Jags could actually challenge in an AFC South that looks vulnerable from top to bottom.
- Doug Farrar
With the success Bortles has had, it would be easy to overlook how improved the rest of the roster looks so far in the preseason. The defense in particular looks to be much faster at the linebacker spot and much more imposing along the defensive line. Farrar has been championing the Jaguars consistently over the course of the offseason, and he appears to be willing to go a step further and say the Jaguars could challenge for the AFC South. That’s not nearly as crazy as it sounds given how awful the Houston Texans looked in the preseason on offense and how poor the Indianapolis Colts roster is top-to-bottom excluding Andrew Luck. The balance of the season ultimately hinges on when Bortles finally starts, but it’s evident the Jaguars are going to be a much improved team in 2014.