Blake Bortles looks better in year 3, and that’s scary


Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars first team was shellacked against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the quarterback’s play represented resiliency and growth.

The 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals was important to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a look at the resiliency of the depth on the roster. The first team was down 14-3 and the offense looked like a shell of itself, but the quarterback was quietly impressive.

In John Oehser’s ‘O-Zone‘, he received a comment from a guy named Matt saying, “I thought Blake Bortles looked smarter than last year.” And upon further reflection, Blake Bortles’ 10 of 16 for 52 yards wasn’t terrible. It certainly wasn’t impressive, but it also showed growth.

The Bortles of the last two seasons would have gotten flustered from the pressure of the playoff-caliber Bengals defense. The Bortles of the last two seasons would have forced more throws and taken off running more often.

While the stat line wasn’t exciting, Bortles was playing smarter, safer football than he had in the past. There was still that great throw to Allen Hurns that showed he wasn’t suddenly lacking the “it factor” that has made him a young QB sensation. But he wasn’t throwing the game away.

That, in and of itself, is an improvement for a quarterback who has led the league in interceptions the last two seasons and led the league in fumbles in 2015. While it is exciting to see Bortles make something out of nothing often, it’s absolutely cringe-worthy when he messes up (which he has done a lot in his short career).

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For all of his flaws, Bortles was a top-10 producing quarterback (touchdowns and yards) in his second season. He moved from being the worst quarterback in the NFL in 2014 to being one of the most productive in 2015.

Now, with another offseason under his belt, Bortles looks like a smarter and wiser quarterback. That’s downright scary to think about.

Expect high production from Bortles as per usual in 2016 but also expect him to be far more effective on the whole as he doesn’t hang onto the ball as long and doesn’t force throws that shouldn’t be forced.

You’ve been warned, NFL.