Jacksonville Jaguars player profiles: Blake Bortles


The 2015 NFL season is getting closer, with training camp less then a week away, what better way to help get to know Jacksonville Jaguars players better than a player profile series? The first player we will take a look at in our new series is Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.

Blake Bortles entered his final season at the University of Central Florida with high expectations, he was starting to gain some attention from scouts after an impressive sophomore season in which he threw for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. What set Bortles apart was his ability to make plays with his feet, in 2012 he rushed for 285 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his sophomore season on a very high note, leading his team to a 38-17 bowl victory over Ball State. Bortles came up huge in the victory, throwing for 271 yards and three touchdowns, he added a rushing touchdown to his total as well.

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During Bortles’ final season at UCF, the Knights had just joined the American Athletic Conference (AAC) which had more big name programs than UCF was used to, like Louisville and Cincinnati. Bortles didn’t let the pressure get to him. He once again posted big numbers, finishing the season with 3,581 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. In his final season at UCF Blake Bortles posted career highs in passing yards, quarterback rating (163.4) and completion percentage (67.8). Bortles once again showed the ability to run the ball, finishing with 272 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

There were two games in his final season that really showed that he was a quarterback that wasn’t afraid of the pressure. In the 6th game of the season Bortles and the UCF Knights squared off against the undefeated Louisville Cardinals who were ranked 8th in the nation at the time. Bortles found his team trailing 35 to 31 with only three minutes remaining in the game. He didn’t let the increased noise from the Louisville crowd phase him, completing six passes for 65 yards and a go ahead touchdown pass with only 23 seconds remaining. This lead to a 38-35 victory over Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals and one of the biggest wins in UCF history. Bortles didn’t stop there, he lead his team to an 11-1 record which earned them an AAC conference championship as well as a trip to the Fiesta Bowl against Baylor.

Jan 1, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; UCF Knights quarterback Blake Bortles (5) celebrates after beating Baylor Bears 49-35 in the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Fiesta Bowl was the first time UCF had made an appearance in a BCS Bowl game, the Knights entered the game as a 17 point underdog, but that didn’t stop Bortles from helping his team upset the best offensive team in the nation. The UCF quarterback finished his last game on an extremely high note, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, running for 93 yards and one touchdown, and leading his team to a 52-42 victory.

Despite entering the NFL draft after an impressive season, Bortles was still overshadowed by Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel. Many considered Bridgewater as the most talented quarterback in the draft and Manziel was undoubtably the most talked about quarterback, causing Bortles to fly under the radar somewhat. However the Jaguars were firm believers in Bortles, selecting him with the third selection in the 2014 draft and making him the first quarterback taken. UCF’s close location to Jacksonville likely influenced this pick but Bortles came out of college possessing a lot of traits that go along with elite quarterbacks as well.

Entering the 2014 season, the plan was for Bortles to sit the entire season and learn behind veteran Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne. However, plans often come crashing down in the NFL and after making some impressive plays in the preseason, Blake Bortles made his first appearance in the second half of the Jaguars’ third regular season game against the Colts.

The game was already out of hand by the time Bortles came in but he showed flashes of why he was picked so high. One of my favorite plays of Bortles’ rookie season came in this game. On a second and seven in the third quarter, Bortles took the snap and rolled to his left off a play action fake but quickly realized he had 2 colts defenders chasing him, he then quickly spun back to his right and completed a 26 yard pass downfield for a first down. This play showcased Bortles’ ability to make plays with his feet as well as throw passes down field. Bortles showed he wasn’t afraid to sling the ball as he finished his first game with 223 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Interceptions and bad decision making proved to be something that Bortles struggled with in his rookie season. He finished the season with 17 interceptions compared to only 11 touchdowns and a league-low quarterback rating of 69.5. However Bortles was sacked the most of any quarterback in the NFL and nearly half of the Jaguars offense was made up of rookies. Despite not being able to post impressive numbers in the passing category, Blake Bortles showcased his ability to stand tall in the pocket and wait for plays to develop, something former Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert always struggled with. He also displayed his arm strength and his ability to keep plays alive. His rushing numbers were easily the most impressive stat of his rookie season, finishing the season with 56 carries for 419 yards. Bortles had the highest yards per carry among all quarterbacks in the NFL with 7.5  and he also had the second most runs of 20 plus yards among all quarterbacks, finishing with seven.

Yes there are concerns for Blake Bortles going into his second season with the Jaguars. His mechanics need work but he reportedly has been busy trying to fix them this offseason. His decision making needs to improve but another offseason under his belt should help him understand the game better. The Jaguars have also done a better job at investing in offensive linemen to protect Bortles by signing Jermey Parnell and Stefen Wisniewski. They have also added more offensive weapons like Julius Thomas, Rashad Greene, and Bernard Pierce. The 2015 season still awaits but with a Jaguars offensive that has more talent, expect a different story from Blake Bortles in 2015.

Be on the lookout for more player profile stories coming soon from Black and Teal.

Next: Three Questions for Denard Robinson

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