Blake Bortles is the future for the Jacksonville Jaguars. General manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley have pinned their careers on the young quarterback. 2015 will be the first full season with Bortles as the starting quarterback of the Jags and he will have to prove that last year’s abysmal statistics were just a rookie quarterback taking his lumps.
By most anyone’s opinion, Blake Bortles stock is trending upward. He is working with quarterback guru Tom House, he’s leading the team like a franchise quarterback should, and he may finally be healthy after working his arm to exhaustion as a rookie. These are all good things for Bortles and they are all good for the Jaguars. I am confident that Blake Bortles is taking every step possible to be the quarterback that Caldwell thought he could be when he took him third overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. I am confident that Bortles is doing everything possible to be the quarterback that the Jaguars desperately need.
But what if it isn’t enough?
Plagued with lost opportunities in his rookie season, the entire Jaguars offense was beset with problems in 2014. The offensive line couldn’t seem to block a high school squad, the running game never really seemed to get started, and even the team’s veteran receiver suffered from the drops. Bortles was a breath of fresh air in an offense gone stale under Chad Henne. Yet he certainly wasn’t a game changer at the game’s most important position. He raised all boats, but not enough to be successful. Even with his progress, he still faltered at critical times and saw mistakes pile up.
Those mistakes may be a heavier weight to throw off than we expect. While described as a risk taker and a quarterback able to shrug off his mistakes, the 2014 season was hard on Bortles. He struggled almost every week and never really saw true success. Now he has a new offensive system to learn and a young offense to lead. It’s all on him and based on what we saw last year there are still plenty of questions remaining for the young quarterback. It’s promising that he’s doing everything he can to get better, but will it be enough?
The Jaguars, and the fans, don’t deserve to sit through another three years of a failed young quarterback project. While Bortles seems to be head and shoulders better than Blaine Gabbert, the painful memory of those previous years still lingers. Ranking poorly as a quarterback in his rookie season has left a bitter taste in many of our mouths as we desperately will Bortles to higher heights than the Jags quarterback position has seen in half a decade or more.
While I don’t think that Bortles will get worse and I am confident he will get better, he has to privet to us still. We won’t know until the 2015 season begins and until then the questions should be asked: what if it doesn’t go as we expect? Do the Jaguars bench the young quarterback for Henne? Is there a veteran quarterback who could come in and compete? Does he compete for the starting job in next year’s offseason? Hopefully these are questions we don’t seriously have to ask after the 2015 season. Hopefully Bortles blows us all away. And yet the question sits in the back of mind, what if he doesn’t take a step forward?
Frankly, it’s a question I don’t want to have to consider.
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