Blake Bortles: 5 questions for the 2015 season

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Sep 28, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) walks off the field after the San Diego Chargers beat the Jaguars 33-14 at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2) Can Blake Bortles Limit His Interceptions?

17 interceptions.

In the past three seasons Aaron Rodgers has thrown just 19 interceptions. But he’s the best quarterback in the NFL right now and marching his way toward Canton, so maybe that’s an unfair comparison. During those same three seasons, Alex Smith threw just 18 interceptions. He’s much closer to mortal and perhaps a better comparison. The point is that 17 interceptions is a lot. There will always be guys like Eli Manning and Jay Cutler to compare with as turnover machines, but if Blake Bortles wants to be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, it’s clear he’ll have to limit his interceptions.

There are plenty of quarterbacks in the NFL that throw 10+ interceptions in a season. Even Peyton Manning threw 15 last season! Bortles, however, struggles with a high interception rate. While Peyton Manning is tossing one just 2.5% of the time and Matt Ryan’s 14 picks come just 2.2% of the time, Bortles is throwing an interception on 3.6% of his attempted passes. That’s a rough rate. Even though Cutler and Rivers were above him in total interceptions this past season, Bortles easily had the highest percentage of attempted passes intercepted among major starters.

Interceptions are often more forgivable when paired with touchdowns. Unfortunately for Bortles, he threw just 11 all season. If we measure that as a percentage of passes, it’s just 2.3%. Cutler managed to stay with the Chicago Bears (for at least one more season) in large part because he throws a TD on 5% of his attempted passes.

Bortles will have to limit mistakes not just to stay in the competition with his fellow quarterbacks, but also to keep the Jaguars in competition. The Jags defense hasn’t been able to shine in large part because it is always on the field, being  beaten down by the opposition. Turning the ball over will force the defense back on the field to be slowly whittled down again all while costing the Jags the opportunity of putting points on the board. The Jaguars just aren’t good enough overall to overcome mistakes from the quarterback right now.

While I think he may still have 10+ interceptions in 2015, I think Bortles will see his interceptions rate (as a percentage of attempted passes) go down. By all accounts he’s getting better and his receivers are as well.

Next: How Will the New OC Affect Bortles?