The Jacksonville Jaguars struggled to put together wins in 2015 but not for lack of trying on the part of the offense. In his second season, quarterback Blake Bortles put together the most productive and impressive season in the short history of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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Amassing over 4,400 passing yards (7th in the NFL) and 35 TDs (2nd in the NFL), Bortles was arguably the most improved player in the NFL after recording one of the worst quarterbacking seasons ever as a rookie.
There was plenty of debate this season about the merits of Bortles’ production, particularly after the Jaguars blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts in week 14 when Bortles threw for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, but inexplicably and moronically got awful grades from Pro Football Focus and ESPN’s dubious QBR statistic.
Looking back, Bortles’ highs were very high and some of his lows were extremely low, but the progress he made in year 2 is undeniable and promising.
So now the question we ponder going into the offseason is where does Bortles rank among all the quarterbacks in the NFL?
We talked recently about Bortles’ being ranked as the 2nd best sophomore quarterback (I respectfully disagree) but how about when everyone in the league is considered?
Gregg Rosenthall does a weekly QB Power Index over at NFL.com and he had Bortles at #13 in his year-end column:
"13. Blake Bortles (30)Oakland found their franchise quarterback in Carr. And the Jaguars have one in Blake Bortles, who is my favorite young quarterback to watch. The Bortles roller-coaster had the biggest highs and the most head-scratching lows of any quarterback in the league. He completes more difficult throws than anyone and can almost play with too much confidence. He’s got the highest ceiling of any quarterback under 25."
I agree with basically all of Rosenthall’s assessment, but I might have Bortles a spot or two higher.
Pro Football Focus also noted Bortles’ improvement in year, but they obviously are not a fan of high variance quarterbacks.
"18. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars, 69.7Bortles took big strides in his second year, taking advantage of downfield playmakers to lead the league with 1,330 yards on deep passes. Similar to Winston, Bortles was boom-or-bust, with 35 BTTs and a league-high 38 TWPs."
When I try to fit Bortles into the current heierarchy of NFL QBs, I use a simple system – how many guys would I choose over Blake Bortles if I needed to field a team this week? Personally, these are the only QBs I would rather have than Bortles at the moment:
- Tom Brady
- Aaron Rodgers
- Cam Newton
- Russell Wilson
- Drew Brees
- Philip Rivers
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Carson Palmer
These are the surefire guys (8) I would take without hesitation. There are a few maybes that I would lump into a another group here:
Even if I put Bortles behind everyone I just listed, that puts him at #12. This is just based off how Bortles played this year and not even taking into consideration the enormous upside he still has.
I fully embrace that I’m a homer and I wholeheartedly agree that there is an inherent bias, but I truly believe Bortles is one of the 12 best quarterbacks in the NFL right now. If you disagree, let me know in the comments below.