Blake Bortles is the key to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ hopes. The offense rests on his young shoulders as he gears up for his second NFL season. 2015 was supposed to be his debut, but with the Jaguars in rebuild mode they decided to hand the reins over to the rookie early in the 2014 season.
2015 saw Bortles show some impressive abilities while struggling on the whole. To say his rookie season was a struggle may be an understatement. Bortles was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL last season (he didn’t even play a full 16 games!) and he was leading in interceptions for a while (good thing Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers were around).
As we gear up for 2015, we have to look at a few questions that linger over Bortles. If we have answers for most of these in 2015 then his career may finally take off. If not, we may be in store for another few years of struggle before the next quarterback is brought to town.
Nov 9, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey (92) and safety Barry Church (42) sack Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) in the second quarter of the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
1) Can Blake Bortles Stop Taking Sacks?
The 2014 Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line was a mess (to be generous). The offensive line allowed an historic number of sacks and that franchise record-setting week two game that saw Chad Henne go down 10 times is still painful to think of.
Hopefully we don’t have to see that happen again.
The Jags overhauled the offensive line for 2015. There may be three new starters at guard, center, and right tackle for the team. Any semblance of consistency is good for the Jaguars and it’s good for Blake Bortles. He went down 55 times last season and many of those can be attributed to the offensive line. Many of them are on him, though.
Pro Football Focus attempts to quantify just how many sacks are attributed to any one player for each down, game, and season. Most of them belong to the offensive line, but a handful of them tend to fall on the quarterback. For Bortles, that number is seven.
Often compared to Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bortles is a big quarterback who likes to hold onto the ball to make plays. Sometimes it works in his favor and sometimes it doesn’t. For Big Ben, it works out more often than not. Bortles will have to work hard on making that happen or else he’s going to struggle to make any plays for the offense and will see the defense celebrating instead.
With the improved offensive line and a full offseason as the unquestioned starter paired with a season of experience, I think we can expect a decline in the sacks Bortles sees each week. It would be great to see the final season number closer to 20, but that may be too much progress to hope for in just one year.
Next: Will Bortles Limit His Mistakes?