Blake Bortles: Greg Olson’s retention is critical for development


Blake Bortles, quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars, will be entering his third season in the NFL for 2016 and will finally get a chance to settle into an offensive system with offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s return.

Stability is critical in developing a franchise quarterback. Even some of the better QBs in the league aren’t able to progress well until they’ve found a match that can be continued for a significant period of time.

Constantly changing offensive coordinators or head coaches is a great way to unsettle young quarterbacks and you need only look around the league to see that many fail to reach their potential under destabilized coaching.

Fortunately, Blake Bortles will get a chance to work with offensive coordinator Greg Olson again. After changing OCs after his first year, Olson and Bortles clearly took a step forward together and laid a strong foundation on which to build on. Olson’s 2015 offense was arguably his best ever and was one of the best coordinator hirings of the season.

Bortles’ sophomore campaign will be tough to top. In just his second season, the young quarterback set franchise records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. Credit to Olson for creating an offensive system and culture that turned the anemic Jacksonville Jaguars offense into a bonafide explosive threat. Now, can Olson and Bortles create something similar or better in 2016?

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That question will hang over the preparations for the next year. Can the team do it again?

The Jags are giving themselves a better shot of doing it again by keeping the Blake Bortles and Greg Olson marriage alive. While head coach Gus Bradley’s seat is getting a little warmer, the Jags wisely chose to stick with what has been working. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Interviewed at the Senior Bowl, Olson was wise to note, “You need to make sure [the offense] is tailored to fit the quarterback if you believe it’s your guy, if it’s not a turnstile.” He went on to say that the Jaguars will be “accelerating” Bortles’ development going into 2016.

There’s a lot to like about Bortles and there’s a lot to like about what Olson has managed to create with Bortles. The quarterback was essentially a raw, unpolished player when Olson arrived and he’s turned him into a rough around the edges diamond. There are parts of his game that need improvement and Olson has a plan to get him there.

Olson, respected as a bit of a quarterback whisperer, has been around young quarterbacks in many of his stops around the NFL. He was with the Jaguars in the ill-fated 2012 to work with bust Blaine Gabbert. He knows when to move on from a quarterback and he knows when to push a QB to get more out of him. While Olson wants to accelerate Bortles’ development, he also knows that he shouldn’t push him too far.

"Well, let’s get better in some of the things we’re doing. Let’s make sure we’re not clouding the situation for him. Let’s make sure he’s functioning at a faster, clearer level. – Jacksonville Jaguars OC Greg Olson on quarterback Blake Bortles"

It’ll be exciting to see what that means for Bortles and the offense. Will it simply be working on decision making and going through his progressions better? Will it be getting back to footwork, making sure he doesn’t lose the gains he put together in 2015? The rough edges need to be smoothed out and Olson’s got the right feel for it all.

As a fan of the team, it’s clear that the Bortles-Olson connection is something the team needs to build around. There’s a plan in place that is creating the necessary stability for Bortles to succeed. He isn’t going to be forced into being something he isn’t because Olson knows that isn’t how you build a strong offense or how you nurture a quality quarterback.

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Blake Bortles’ development is paramount for the Jaguars. Olson’s presence is a critical factor in making Bortles even better.