Blake Bortles broke all kinds of franchise records for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015, but he could have been even better behind a superior offensive line.
There’s a certain magic to a quarterback who can scramble away from pressure, keep his eyes down field, and throw a strike to a wide receiver in a tight window.
Jacksonville Jaguars fans were treated to those moments throughout the season as quarterback Blake Bortles found himself harassed all season long and still managed to make these magical plays occur on a (fairly) regular basis.
While it’s nice to see that your quarterback is capable a la Brett Favre, it’s even nicer to see a quarterback able to stand back in a nice clean pocket and deliver strike after strike and know that he’s just getting hot and the team as a whole is succeeding.
There were very few instances in 2015 where we got to see Blake Bortles drop back, stand tall in the pocket without needing to dodge defenders and deliver throw after throw to talented pass catchers like Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Julius Thomas. It’s a testament to how good Bortles is that he managed to be the best quarterback in franchise history -breaking records for passing TDs and passing yards – behind an offensive line that saw him sacked 51 times (7.8 percent of dropbacks).
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That’s not even counting the number of times he took a hit or was hurried.
2014 saw Bortles sacked a league-high 55 times and he played in two less games. This season he has also led the league as the most sacked quarterback (next closest is Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers at 46). This offensive line is porous and does a terrible job of protecting Blake Bortles on each and every play.
Losing starting guard Brandon Linder to injured reserve was a major blow to the effectiveness of this unit, but it’s clear that the offensive line is not performing up to snuff. Guys like Sam Young in at right tackle and Zane Beadles at left guard can be singled out over and over but it really comes down to creating a deep unit that operates as one.
That hasn’t happened for the Jaguars in a number of years and it shows. Specifically, it shows in the league-high number of sacks Bortles takes.
So, as good as the 35 touchdowns and 4428 yards are and as magical as Bortles made running for his life look, it’s clear that there is room for improvement. Imagine what Bortles could look if he only took 27 sacks in a season like Jameis Winston with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
After looking back at the numbers for 2015 and seeing Blake Bortles hit the turf that many times (again), it’s even more impressive what he has managed to accomplish. He could have been even better if he had a higher-caliber set of guys protecting him on each play.