The 2015 NFL preseason is in the books and Blake Bortles has emerged as a certified preseason superstar.
Through three games (he sat out the fourth), Blake Bortles managed to complete 39 of 60 attempts (with six drops according to Pro Football Focus) good for a 65% completion percentage. From those 39 completions, Bortles racked up 461 yards and one touchdown.
Most critically, Bortles didn’t have a single interception in those 60 attempts.
Tack on some impressive runs – including one for a touchdown – and Bortles is coming out of the preseason hot.
He has done everything he possibly could to put fans’ minds at rest. He’s shown that his improvements mechanically and mentally can translate to the field.
Sure, the preseason technically doesn’t count and we all shouldn’t get carried away, but it’s tough not to. From the worst ranked quarterback in the league by Pro Football Focus in 2014 to the seventh highest graded in the 2015 preseason is a big jump. even if those numbers don’t hold exactly, it’s clear that he has improved drastically.
We can preach a need for conservative optimism based on the preseason. It’s warranted, but it’s incredibly tough to not get caught up the growing star that Bortles is. As noted by writer Khaled Elsayed at PFF:
"His stats are certainly gaudy enough; he completed 20-of-29 passes including seven over 10 yards in the air. What’s more, outside of getting spooked a little early on one play, he showed good poise in a pocket that wasn’t always clean (guard Zane Beadles had issues with the power of DT Tyrunn Walker, and tackle Luke Joeckel struggled with everything thrown at him by Philip Hunt). He scrambled when necessary, and did an excellent job of leading his receivers into extra yards while fitting the ball into some rapidly closing windows."
He finishes with a warning that careers aren’t made in the preseason.
Still, the poise, mechanics, and mental development is clear and shows that Blake Bortles really has taken a step forward.
For now, he’s a preseason superstar. But for my money, we’re seeing a quarterback developing into a true star quarterback.
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