Blake Bortles among risers in camp, preseason


The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Blake Bortles with the third overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft hoping to sit the raw, young signal caller for the entirety of his rookie season. That plan lasted all of 10 quarters, as Bortles was forced into the lineup to try and jump-start a completely moribund offense.

Looking back, it was probably silly and overly optimistic at best to count on Chad Henne to play well enough to hold off the franchise quarterback waiting in the wings.

We’ve talked plenty about Bortles’ rookie season – his struggles, the flashes of brilliance, what he needs to work on – but all that matters is now what Bortles has done to improve in year 2. The now entrenched starting quarterback spent the offseason working diligently on his mechanics and getting acclimated with new offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s offensive scheme. Early returns from training camp and the preseason are quite encouraging, enough so to get the attention of renowned personnel man Gil Brandt:

"Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville JaguarsBortles has a new quarterbacks coach in Nathaniel Hackett and a new coordinator in Greg Olson, and his offensive line should provide better play up front, with free agents Stefen Wisniewski and Jermey Parnell coming aboard. Thus far, Bortles looks night-and-day different from what he was as a rookie. He’s improved his mechanics and has a much better understanding of NFL coverages and the speed of the game; it looks to me like he’s firmed his body up. More than anything, I like the weapons around him. Allen Robinson, whose rookie season ended when he was placed on injured reserve last November, looks like he’s in for an excellent campaign."

There are two arguments being thrown around to discount the progress Bortles has shown so far in the preseason: the preseason doesn’t matter, and Bortles did this last year as a rookie too. The first point is moot because arguing the validity of the preseason is a fruitless venture.

The second point is easily dismissed when you actually look at who Bortles has played against. As a rookie, Bortles excelled against second and third string defenses since he was behind Henne on the depth chart. This year, Bortles is excelling against first team defenses.

Like everyone else, I want to see the consistent and complete command of the offense from Bortles in the regular season, but that won’t stop me from being cautiously optimistic about his play so far.

Next: Beadles locked in at guard?

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