Blake Bortles struggled in his rookie season but showed some flashes of potential after being thrust into the starting role. It was clear early in 2014 that Chad Henne would not be the answer at quarterback and the Jaguars did a quick shift over to Bortles instead of sticking with their plan.
It wasn’t just Chad Henne’s failure to spark the offense that prompted the shift, however.
Blake Bortles also shined during the preseason, leading many of us watching the Jaguars to believe he was far ahead of the development curve we initially anticipated. He looked sharp and was leading the offense with ease. While he looked less sharp during the regular season, it was clear he was an instant leader for the team and could raise all boats.
A rookie quarterback can only do so much, however.
Entering year two we can expect Bortles to be better than his first campaign but we shouldn’t expect him to have to be the only playmaker on the team. Head coach Gus Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell know this and have begun addressing it by bringing in high-scoring tight end Julius Thomas. They also pounced on the opportunity to snag an underperforming running back in Bernard Pierce.
Those two acquisitions in free agency aren’t going to be enough to cut it, however.
The Jags had a multitude of standout offensive players last season, but none of them could perform consistently (or stay on the field for that matter). Players like Denard Robinson, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, and Marqise Lee should all continue to become better players in 2015, but those four may not be enough to cut it.
The best quarterbacks make those around them look better. Guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have a near-unique ability to make even average offenses turn into something special. Right now, we don’t know if Bortles has that ability. He certainly doesn’t have a Reggie Wayne or Rob Gronkowski to throw the ball to.
As we approach the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jaguars need to seriously evaluate the weapons they’ve brought to Jacksonville for Blake Bortles. There is no proven running back currently on the roster, there is no reliable 1000 yard receiver, and the only “proven” target they have is Julius Thomas who some argue was a product of being Peyton Manning’s go-to red zone target.
To me, it looks like the Jags could use at least two more weapons, preferably a high round running back and a sure handed receiver. The Jaguars struggled to find balance on offense last season and Blake Bortles struggled with receivers dropping the ball all year. If the Jags can find players to remedy those problems, then Bortles should be in much better shape for 2015.
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