Blake Bortles Among Least Pressured Quarterbacks, Assessing the Problem


For all the sacks Blake Bortles took in 2014, we would assume that he was under pressure a lot of the time. The facts, according to Pro Football Focus, doesn’t seem to indicate that, however.

Bortles had a rough first year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, sacked 55 times in just 13 and a half games. He faced pressure on 32.5% of his drop backs, according to PFF. Still, he went down the most in the league (San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was next with 52 times sacked). Bortles faced less pressure than every other quarterback who was sacked at least 36 times with the exceptions of Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears and Matthew Stafford with the Detroit Lions.

It’s clear that Blake Bortles is taking too many sacks.

This problem is two-fold.

Firstly, the offensive line in 2014 did not do a good job of providing Bortles with a clean pocket when possible. Opposing defensive linemen and other blitzing defensemen were able to push the offensive line around, thereby capitalizing on the created pressure with a sack of Bortles. The offensive line as a unit needs to do a better job of providing a cleaner pocket with more space for Bortles so that when pressure does develop the play does not break down completely.

The other problem is with Blake Bortles. As a young quarterback with a knack for making the big play, he holds onto the ball too long. This is the same criticism other big quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger with the Pittsburgh Steelers often get criticized of (though Big Ben was the fifth least pressured quarterback in the NFL in 2014 per PFF). A concern with Bortles holding onto the ball too long is that his “too long” just happens to be shorter than other quarterbacks. Many of the most pressured QBs on the list hold onto the ball far too long, resulting in time for the defense to get to them. For Bortles, it’s simply that the plays break down and he can’t get through his reads and progressions before the defense can get to him.

With a full offseason under his belt, Bortles could progress well toward remedying that, though. His first year he was tossed into the fire and 2015 will allow the game to slow down around him a little bit, enabling him to make his reads a bit faster and get rid of the ball quickly. Hopefully he won’t have to get rid of it as quickly as before, allowing him some precious extra moments to find the right option and not throw a pick.

These are not the only problems with the quarterbacking situation in Jacksonville, of course. Bottles needs to get better even when not pressured, the running game needs to provide some balance, and the Jaguars play calling needs to improve as well. Bortles struggled in a clean pocket as well in his first season. This is a young team, though, and we can expect those things to improve as more experience is gained by the future stars of the Jaguars.

Next: Can Ryan Davis Improve with More Playing Time?

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