T.J. Yeldon or Blake Bortles: Who will the Jaguars rely on?


Blake Bortles and T.J. Yeldon may have the fate of the Jacksonville Jaguars on their shoulders. One of them is a young, unproven rookie and the other is a second year quarterback hoping that his future career is so bright that everyone forgets his rookie season. If that sounds like a shaky foundation for a franchise, it is. There’s no reason to sugarcoat it.

In an ideal world where all NFL teams are able to be built as they like, most would strive for offensive balance. A team would not have to rely on a running back more than its quarterback or vice versa. There would, of course, be teams with a preference toward one or the other based on coaching ideology, but the talent of the players would not dictate how the game is played.

The Jaguars don’t have that luxury.

While there is a crop of young, talented players on the Jags roster, they simply aren’t at an experience level where they can be successful yet. Or, more appropriately, the last two years have shown they haven’t been ready yet. We’re all eagerly awaiting 2015 to see if things finally come together. New addition T.J. Yeldon and second year quarterback Blake Bortles figure to be the prominent pieces of the new (hopefully balanced) offense.

While Blake Bortles is certainly striving toward making himself better in every possible way, we won’t really know just how good he’ll be in 2015 until the season actually begins. The 2015 Preseason will give us a better indication, but even then we won’t really be sure. He’s working hard to be the franchise quarterback he was drafted to become, but we haven’t seen him put it all together yet.

Oct 4, 2014; Oxford, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) runs for a first down during the first half against Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Yeldon, in comparison, seems to be a bit more ready for the NFL. He’s expected to come in and immediately be the workhorse for the Jaguars and find success. Running backs in the NFL have a history of finding success early in their careers and it is predictable for a young, inexperienced team like the Jags to rely more on a workhorse back.

So far, the safer bet is a conservative, run-first offense behind Yeldon as the crutch for the Jags. Head coach Gus Bradley is committed to revitalizing the running game in 2015 (and it desperately needs revitalization) and has made it a point of emphasis during the offseason.

General manager Dave Caldwell also seems committed to the running game for the Jaguars. This offseason saw the arrival of three new offensive linemen, two of whom are veterans expecting to start immediately at center and right tackle. The third, 2015 draft pick A.J. Cann, will either push Zane Beadles at guard or will surpass the veteran to find himself starting for the Jaguars. This should mean good things for both pass protection, but also improvement opening holes for Yeldon.

All due respect to Blake Bortles at this point in his young career, but 2015 may be shaping up to be the year T.J. Yeldon shines instead. He’s a gifted young runner who may just be in the right situation with a commitment to the run game, improved personnel up front, and the ability to transition well from the college ranks to the NFL. Bortles is certainly expected to improve, but at this point it is uncertain whether he will be at a point where the Jaguars can rely on him.

Next: Are we giving Gus Bradley a free pass?

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