Blake Bortles had himself a rough rookie season. We all know.
We all also know that Blake Bortles has to get better in year two.
While we all know he has to, there’s no guarantee that he does. He seems to be doing everything in his power to get better and I doubt there will be a sophomore slump since he was already among the worst quarterbacks in the league statistically, but nothing is certain in the NFL. “Can’t miss” prospects miss all the time and sometimes a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback fades quickly.
It’s all up in the air, but if Bortles were to make the leap, now would be a good time to do it.
It’s year three of the Jacksonville Jaguars rebuild and general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley know that this is the time to show gains for the team. If Bortles can put it together, that would go a long way to having a successful tenure for Bortles, Bradley, and Caldwell.
In Conor Orr’s Making The Leap series at NFL.com, he highlights one of the main reasons that Bortles struggles by mentioning some game situations. I’ll quote directly from his piece:
"Bortles rolled out and fired a pass right on the numbers to Marcedes Lewis (the route probably calls for him to be led, but it was still a perfectly-catchable pass). He drops it. The next play, an obvious passing down, brings pressure and a tipped fastball over the middle to Shorts.This is how so many of his early-game drives went. Gerhart fumbled on the second play of Bortles’ first drive as a full-time starter, serving as another example of the uphill climb he faced each week."
Orr sums it up in the next one-line paragraph, saying, “In short, he will make the leap once Jacksonville decides to give him a little shove.”
Does that shove come in the form of a better supporting cast? Does it come in keeping him disciplined and becoming a pocket passer instead of relying on his legs to get him out of difficult situations?
Personally, I think that it comes from giving Bortles the supporting cast he needs to gain some momentum. That means a tight end who doesn’t drop a pass right in the numbers. It means a veteran receiver who doesn’t lead the team in drops (looking at you, Cecil Shorts). It means an offensive line that can actually block.
So far this offseason, it sounds like all of those things have been given to Bortles. Now, is that enough of a shove? Is that enough support? Is it a good enough platform for Bortles to make the leap from?
It’s going to be intriguing to see what Blake Bortles can put together in just his second year in the league. He’s a young quarterback with the weight of a franchise on his shoulders. He’s attacking the game with a calming demeanor. He’s working on everything possible to get better.
If the results don’t come in year two, then they may come in year three. That would make 2015 a great year to work on building a solid foundation of mechanics and fundamentals in game situations. It would also mean that Bortles must persevere and not get discouraged, continuing his growth for that 2016 season.
Either way, things are coming together for Bortles to make a leap in the near future. Whether 2015 or 2016, Caldwell may have finally put enough talent on the field to get Bortles where we all want him to be.
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