Usually the offseason is full of novelty pieces (see all the ultimately meaningless rankings put out by every site, yours truly included), but there is the occasional substantial analysis piece sprinkled in here and there. One of the best sites for getting solid microanalysis of a player’s performance is Pro Football Focus. A tweet from Mike Clay of PFF about Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles‘ rookie campaign recently got my attention:
The purpose of Clay’s post is to investigate the reasons for a quarterback’s incompletions, and to reveal how much of the fault lies with the QB or with other external factors. Bortles was under tons of pressure in his rookie year, and it shows in his sack numbers and batted passes. As Clay points out, there were a lot of opportunities thrown out the window due to poor play by the offensive line or by Bortles release point being low.
Clay dives a little deeper into Bortles’ performance as a rookie, jumping off Bortles’ 17% “off-target” statistic, which was the 6th highest among quarterbacks in 2014.
"Blake Bortles had a rough rookie campaign, and it shows up in here in the off-target department. Bortles primarily struggled with overthrows (41, 8.6 percent) and batted passes (17, 3.6 percent), but did have some bad luck in the drop department (31, 6.5 percent). The 17 batted passes tied for the league lead, as did the 55 sacks he took. Unlike Lindley and Jake Locker, Bortles isn’t too far off the 13 percent league average here, so especially with a much-improved supporting cast, there’s some reason to believe he’ll improve as a sophomore."
It’s nice to see Clay show some optimism about Bortles in year 2 near the end of his analysis, especially given how negatively he could have skewed his projection for Bortles moving forward. Clay is banking on an improved offensive line and additional weapons in the passing game to bring down Bortles “off-target” percentage to the league average. That’s certainly reasonable, and the young QB should be aided by what has historically been a very QB-friendly offense from offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
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