Blake Bortles had a nice night in his first preseason outing, completing 11 of 15 passes for 118 yards and capped it all off with a rushing touchdown.
It’s the kind of night that the Jacksonville Jaguars desperately needed to see in a game situation from their young quarterback and, fortunately, he delivered.
Now let’s keep in mind that this is just the preseason and accomplishments against non-starters shouldn’t be weighed too heavily, but the improvement displayed by Bortles was so terrific that it is clear he is on the rise and worth noting.
So, just how good was his performance on Friday night?
Among quarterbacks with at least 30 snaps so far this preseason, Pro Football Focus has Blake Bortles graded second-highest. At +1.8 he is just .3 behind Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
PFF grades aren’t the ultimate measurement for how well a player does, but they are handy tool for comparison purposes. Their grades are respected, but what is more important may be looking at quarterback ratings and other measurements.
Blake Bortles finished the night with a 96 QB rating, which is solid rating for any quarterback and a vast improvement for Bortles. A handful of other quarterbacks with at least 30 snaps had a higher rating.
Bortles also had a high competition percentage of 73.3%, coming in third behind Chase Daniel and Brock Osweiler among QBs with at least 15 pass attempts (if that isn’t an indication that the preseason is out of whack, then I don’t know what is).
The point to take away here is not that Blake Bortles is king of the preseason and an MVP candidate. He’s far from it and there are a lot of things to work on.
We should take away that Blake Bortles is much improved. He’s showing that the work he put in during the offseason is translatable to the football field. He’s showing maturity in leading an offense that has been sorely lacking for the Jaguars. He’s stepped up in a big way.
But this is all off one preseason game for Bortles. Can he keep it up through the entire preseason? More importantly, can he keep it up entering the regular season and avoid hurting his arm down the stretch while still throwing strikes?
There are still plenty of questions surrounding Blake Bortles. Hopefully positive answers reveal themselves, as hinted during that first preseason game, but don’t expect everything to be roses. Bortles is still young quarterback and while he took plenty of lumps in his first season, there are undoubtedly more to come.
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