Blake Bortles Needs To Take Care of the Ball Against the Best Turnover Defense
The Houston Texans defense is the best turnover defense in the league. They have generated 15 interceptions and 13 fumbles so far, dominating good offenses and bad in the turnover battle. They are picking up turnovers at a frenzied rate, taking over games with their superior play and preying on the opposition’s mistakes. Blake Bortles, the interception-prone rookie quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, currently leads the NFL with 15 interceptions and will have to play quality, mistake-free football if the Jaguars hope to come out on top.
The Texans likely won’t make that easy for him. They are apparently licking their chops over getting to face Bortles.
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Fortunately for Blake Bortles, he can now build on a foundation from last week. After tossing at least one pick in each game this season, Bortles found success against the New York Giants last week, managing to turn in a mistake-free game. He threw no interceptions and managed to hold onto the ball during each of the seven sacks he took.
That’s a big improvement for the quarterback and it is bringing hope to a defense that continually works hard to present chances to win.
That defense will have its hands full after Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed six touchdowns last week. While the weight of history is on their side and it’s likely Fitzpatrick won’t follow that up with another 300+ yard game with multiple touchdowns, the Jaguars defense will have its hands full simply containing an offense that boasts some serious playmakers. They do not need their job made harder by their quarterback turning the ball over.
Bortles will have to make good decisions, sound throws, and keep his hands on the ball behind a shaky offensive line. He’s going to be playing against a very talented defense that has turned into ballhawks in the secondary and almost abusive in their pursuit for the quarterback and the football in the front seven.
Limiting mistakes – particularly interceptions – has been harped on with Blake Bortles since he took over the quarterback position midway through week three. He turned the ball over twice in that game and led a steady stream of turnovers through the following weeks. His low point was when he directly handed 14 points to a Miami Dolphins team that the Jags were playing close. Those two pick sixes were the margin of victory then.
The Jaguars are going to be building on recent success against the Texans. They swept J.J. Watt and the Texans last season despite finishing the season just 4-12. The Texans are greatly improved over their 2-14 season last year, but the Jags could have their number still in many situations. The quarterback position has changed, however. The Jags are no longer boasting game manager and non-starter Chad Henne. In place of Henne’s consistently bland play will be the high energy Bortles who is sometimes too aggressive for his own good. While Henne leaves a lot to be desired, he has never been a turnover machine.
Bortles, in contrast, will have to work hard to find the sweet spot between aggression and safety, finding ways to drive the offense effectively without taking undue risks and giving the Texans defense a chance to jump on another turnover. The Jaguars need Bortles to channel the same play that led to a great comeback drive last week, with Bortles seeing the field well, hitting on his passes, identifying possibilities to use his athleticism to eat up chunks of yards, executing, and putting points on the board.
At this point we can’t anticipate that Bortles will be without mistakes. He’s a rookie and the majority of the season suggests that he will struggle at times in this Sunday’s game. We can, however, remain hopeful that he will string two mistake free games together and help the defense and offense toward victory. If he gets above 200 yards and tosses a few TDs, I’d be pretty happy too.