Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles landed a few dozen spots higher than the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew luck on the NFL’s top 100 players, causing a bit of controversy among fans.
Blake Bortles made his NFL’s top 100 debut at number 56 this week, clearly being regarded as one of the better players in the league by his peers.
Fellow AFC South quarterback Andrew Luck, widely regarded as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, fell from seventh in 2015 to 92nd this year, which is causing quite a bit of hullabaloo.
In particular, it is easy to point to Luck’s success and his widely heralded ascendance as a top player since assuming Peyton Manning’s job when he was drafted first overall a few years ago. In comparison, Bortles’ first couple seasons have had many more ups and downs and the Jaguars have had far less success.
But in the NFL you’re only as good as your last season, game, or play. It’s a game with a short memory year to year and when players and coaches come out to vote on who is the best in the league it isn’t uncommon to have them move players down based on their most recent contributions.
In this case, Luck’s 55.5 completion percentage, 4.1 interception percentage, and 6.4 yards per attempt clearly rank worse than Bortles’ 58.6 completion percentage, 3.0 interception percentage, and 7.3 yards per attempt. In addition, Bortles threw 35 touchdowns to Luck’s 15 and 18 interceptions over 16 games to Luck’s 12 in seven games.
There’s no doubt that Luck had a worse season than Bortles in 2015.
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What is in doubt is whether he is a worse player.
This wasn’t even a question entering the 2015 season. Luck is well regarded for his athleticism and his leadership and his intelligence. He clearly has some of the best tools any quarterback has ever been blessed with. That doesn’t make him some demigod, though. 2015 showed that he can struggle and that injury can completely disrupt a promising career.
In comparison, Bortles showed that he can tough it out and play at a higher level than many anticipated. He closed the gap in the year that Luck struggled and both players are associated much more closely to each other than many fans of the NFL ever would have anticipated prior to this latest season.
That’s why Bortles comes out on top for now. This last season pushed him into the conversation and placed him ahead of the vaunted Luck in the short-memory rankings of the last season. That doesn’t mean the rankings could flip-flop in a year or that Luck won’t regain his form, but for now it means that they deserve to be considered more on the same level.