Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was the first signal-caller taken off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft, but most analysts agreed he was a raw prospect who needed time to develop into an NFL quarterback. Spurred by outstanding play in the preseason, the Jaguars turned to Bortles a few weeks into the season after veteran Chad Henne failed to lead the offense to respectability.
After playing relatively well in his first few starts, Bortles regressed in the middle of the season and, to be frank, was somewhat disappointing over the 2nd half of the season. A lot of that was unfairly predicated by his success in the preseason, but he still was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL by any statistical metric.
One of those metrics is the QBR, pioneered by handful of people, including the guys at ESPN. Noah Davis and Michael Lopez of FiveThirtyEight Sports recently went through the trouble of categorizing every quarterback into ten groups based on their QBR. It’s a fairly simple premise – they plotted curves based on the frequency of their QBRs. While the top group (“Elites”) unsurprisingly contained Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady, the bottom group (comedically dubbed the “Uh-Ohs”) was made up of 2 rookies – Blake Bortles and Derek Carr.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Bortles deserves criticism for his rookie season, but come on, he was a rookie! Take a look at the graph below generated by the FiveThirtyEight article – Blake Bortles has 13 starts so far in his career, but the graph below does a one-to-one comparison with a guy who had 95 starts (Marc Bulger)!
Bortles certainly wasn’t great in his rookie season, but including him in a piece like this with players who have an order of magnitude more starts under their belt is pretty silly. Let’s give him another year or two with some players around him who are little more experienced and then judge him accordingly.