Blake Bortles Grades Out As a C+ for First Half of Season


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After watching probably the best preseason performance of any quarterback in franchise history, fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars were miffed that they had to wait to see rookie first round pick

Blake Bortles

take the field in the regular season. After all, Bortles clearly outperformed veteran

Chad Henne

, and the Jaguars selected him 3rd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft because they thought he was the guy.

Well the Chad Henne era didn’t even last 3 games, and fans finally got what they wanted halfway through the blowout loss against the Colts in week 3. Since then, Bortles has been exactly what you expect out of a rookie quarterback – flashy, erratic, inconsistent, and downright frustrating at times.

We haven’t seen enough of Bortles to determine whether or not he’s “the guy” yet, but that shouldn’t stop people from evaluating his performance thus far. Keith Myers over at FanSided did just that, as he handed out letter grades for the 3 rookie quarterbacks who have started a majority of their team’s games – Bortles, Derek Carr, and Teddy Bridgewater. He gave Bortles a C+, the lowest of all 3 players.

"Bortles’ biggest statistical asset early on was his ability to complete a high percentage of his passes. It was clear that he was seeing the field well, and taking what the defense gave him. Unfortunately, that led to insanely low yards per attempt number….His interception rate has spiked, and the change hasn’t generated enough big plays to counteract the effects of the turnovers…The lack of a reliable running game and defense in Jacksonville hasn’t helped matters either. Jacksonville has spent most games well behind on the scoreboard, and asking their rookie passer to lead the comeback attempt…He needs to stop forcing things and get back to taking what the defense gives him…2014 Midterm Grade: C+"

Myers makes a few valid points, particularly in reference to Bortles’ poor decision making. He has tried to play the hero too often and make things happen when nothing is there. Some of his interceptions have been completely inexcusable, and they’ve cost the Jaguars at least one or two of their losses.

Conversely, I don’t really agree with other parts of Myers’ assessment. I would hardly call Bortles’ yards per attempt in his first few starts “insanely low.” In his first 14 quarters of play, Bortles yards per attempt average was 7.02, which would be good for 21st in the NFL right now.

The lack of a running game hasn’t been a problem for 4 games now. It’s really been just general ineffectiveness in the passing game, for a variety of reasons, that has held the offense back. Denard Robinson has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL since being inserted into the starting lineup, accumulating 389 yards and 4 touchdowns over the last 4 games.

Overall however, I can’t really disagree with Myers’ C+ grade. Bortles has been up-and-down, and the expectations for him were raised significantly after his outstanding preseason. Bortles has had his struggles when facing pressure this season, and he’s going to have to improve on that to reach his full potential. Myers’ grades for Bridgewater (B) and Carr (B+) are also fair, but I would still absolutely take Bortles and his tools over the other guys. All of the rookie quarterbacks have flashed, but Bortles’ flashes have been the most impressive and the most promising. I would much rather have a guy who needs to be reeled back a bit and told to stop trying to take chances than a quarterback who isn’t willing to take shots and try to make big plays happen.