After a rough rookie season, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is gearing up for a big jump in year 2. Bortles has already shown significant improvement at the start of OTAs in both his mechanics and his physique, he’s displaying the intangibles and leadership you want in your franchise quarterback, and the path appears to be clear for him to have a monster sophomore season.
Optimism abound, it’s worthwhile to remember just how poor Bortles’ rookie season was from a statistical perspective. He had the lowest total QBR of any starting quarterback, and his mechanics clearly regressed towards the end of the season.
Pro Football Focus is currently running a series breaking down how each quarterback fared passing to certain levels down the field. Bortles graded out as the worst quarterback in short passing, but he fares much better in the intermediate and deep part of the field.
According to PFF, Bortles threw a very low number of intermediate passes (11-20 yards). Bortles threw to the intermediate level only 17.6% of the time, and he graded out at (-2.9). That’s not great considering grades are normalized so that (0.0) is the league average, but it’s significantly better than his short passing grade.
Bortles was above the league average throwing the ball 21-30 yards down the field, as he targeted that level of the field 7.4% of the time. His overall grade of (-7.0) isn’t spectacular, but it is better than Andy Dalton… so there’s that.
Going to the 31-40 yard range, Bortles received a (-2.3) grade on the 2.5% of throws that traveled that far. This area appears to be Bortles’ sweet spot, as he graded out the best here, ahead of guys like Tom Brady and Joe Flacco.
While none of these grades are great by any means, it does give a glimpse into what Bortles is better at doing. It’s not surprising to see the numbers suggest he fares better targeting down the field compared to near the line of scrimmage. In 2015, I expect all of his numbers to go up a noticeable margin.
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