Blake Bortles was beaten silly by opposing defenses in 2014. The rookie quarterback was taken down for a league-high 55 sacks behind a shaky offensive line that didn’t seem to know what hit them. Guys like J.J. Watt were a major part of that. Tack on another 30 hits (as measured by Pro Football Focus) and you may legitimately confuse Bortles as a young man auditioning to play ball in a pinball machine.
Hit continually in his first year, Bortles took his lumps. He finished 2014 as the lowest ranked quarterback in pretty much any measurement. Some quarterbacks start that way. Others go the way of Cam Newton, tearing it up in their first years.
Blake Bortles may have suffered from his own success a bit too much. Through the 2014 preseason, it was clear that Bortles had something that incumbent starter Chad Henne didn’t. There was a spark, a drive, and a certain determination behind the way Bortles played football. When Henne stalled, it was a logical step by the coaching staff to take the ahead of schedule Bortles and thrust him into the starter’s role, scrapping a plan to keep him learning from the bench all season.
Bortles paid the price in his first season. He was beaten by the defense, ground into the dirt, his arm deteriorated as he struggled to keep throwing from the end of the collegiate season through the draft process and through 14 NFL games. It all wore on him.
Now, it’s time to see what he can do in 2015.
2015 was supposed to be the first test for Blake Bortles and the new look Jacksonville Jaguars. Chad Henne was supposed to be competent enough to keep the offense rolling until now. Now with an additional 14 games under his belt, it would be wise to still consider 2015 the first real season for the young Bortles. The 2015 Jacksonville Jaguars are decidedly his team and they will be be successful or they will fail based on how much progress Bortles can make from his rookie campaign to his first real season as the man in charge.
2014 was bonus experience for a quarterback of the future. The Jaguars didn’t expect much from their future franchise star and they were happy to see him put together some flashes of brilliance and quality drives in his first season, ahead of schedule. The team is probably equally happy that their prized quarterback wasn’t injured from all of the hits he took. In 2015, we’ll be able to see Bortles as the plan intended. He’ll be rested, he’ll be more knowledgeable, and he’ll be the leader of this team.
Expect Blake Bortles to come out swinging in his first real test.
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