Blake Bortles has 996 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions through the first quarter of the season.
Lost amid the 1-3 record that the Jacksonville Jaguars face is that Bortles has quietly become both a true NFL starting quarterback and he has also put up some of the best quarterback numbers the Jags have seen in years.
- Last season, Bortles took over for the failing Chad Henne at quarterback midway through Week 3. Neither of them had numbers close to what Bortles has put up so far in 2015 (both below 500 yards passing and a combined six touchdowns and five interceptions.
- 2013 was also interesting, with Blaine Gabbert failing and Henne stepping in for him. Together they were the two least productive quarterbacks through four games in 2013, accounting for just 812 yards, one touchdown, and seven interceptions combined.
- 2012, a complete lost year for the franchise, saw Gabbert tossing 654 yards (second to last in the league) with a surprising five touchdowns to just one interception. Gabbert, of course, went on to finish that season with just 1662 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions in 10 games.
- 2011 saw the Jaguars feature a rookie Blaine Gabbert throwing for 387 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Luke McCown, who Gabbert replaced, was the least productive quarterback through four games that season.
- 2010’s David Garrard is a welcome positive blip in a mass of mediocrity. He posted 611 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions through four games in that season.
- 2009’s version of Garrard was even better, posting 941 yards, five touchdowns, and just one interception.
The point here is that the Jacksonville Jaguars have had some absolutely atrocious quarterback play over the last few seasons. It’s been so bad that I think many of us fans have lost perspective (I know I have).
Sep 20, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and center Luke Bowanko (70) celebrate a touchdown pass during the second quarter of an NFL Football game against the Miami Dolphins at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
It has legitimately been a half decade since the Jaguars have seen quarterback play even remotely as competent as that of Blake Bortles so far in 2015. Sure, there are mistakes and Bortles certainly isn’t among the best in the NFL right now, but for a quarterback who has just 17 starts to his name we are seeing some of the best quarterback play in a long, long time.
While it is somewhat depressing to think of even mediocre quarterbacking being considered good for the franchise, the play of Bortles through four games does give cause for hope. With so many losses over the last few years, it’s sometimes tough to look past that.
We aren’t just seeing Blake Bortles look good in comparison to his franchise peers, though. We’re seeing Blake Bortles look downright great. Garrard was a good quarterback at the end of the 2000s and Bortles is on a comparable level now and it’s just his second year in the league.
The first quarter of the season is a good time to do some early evaluations of how things are going for the team and at quarterback it’s clear that Bortles is doing much, much better than we have seen in the past. We’re seeing a quarterback developing with a ceiling that is higher than other QBs for this franchise.
Blake Bortles can be a quality quarterback for this franchise. Based on his start to the 2015 season, I’d say he’s already well on his way. He may in fact already be a quality quarterback, at least by the Jaguars’ franchise measurements.
There’s room for improvement. We aren’t anywhere near a polished Blake Bortles. But for now, it’s nice to know that he’s stepping up in a big way for a franchise that hasn’t seen competent quarterbacking in a long, long time.
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