Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has been asked to do too much in 2016 and it’s hurting the team.
It’s important to recognize limitations in the NFL. Quarterback Blake Bortles was a sensation in 2015 for the Jacksonville Jaguars but one good year does not translate to being able to do it all.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much exactly what the Jaguars are asking him to do.
In 2015, due to a lagging running game, the Jags asked Bortles to pass often. He threw the ball 606 times (sixth in the NFL) over 16 games, about 38 times per game. There were many big plays from those throws and the Jags offense appeared explosive because he and his receivers, most notably Allen Robinson, were connecting often.
The running game was supposed to be fixed in 2016 and Bortles was supposed to be able to bring those high attempt numbers down, helping to balance the offense. Unfortunately, through 13 games, the running game is still averaging just 24 attempts per game compared to 22 attempts the year before. The commitment to the run game has grown since Nathaniel Hackett took over as offensive coordinator, but many of those rushing attempts are now falling to Bortles, who already has 50 rushing attempts in 13 games compared to just 52 the year before.
The lack of success running with the running backs is leading to many more dropbacks and passes for Bortles. Bortles is third in the NFL in attempts, already posting 520 attempts in just 13 games (40 per game). Young quarterbacks should not be asked to throw the ball that many times.
More from Black and Teal
- Jacksonville Jaguars should welcome Derrick Henry into the kingdom
- Jaguars Rumors: Trent Baalke seems to be getting respect now
- Bold trade proposal has Jacksonville Jaguars shipping LT Cam Robinson
- Jaguars News: This division rival might be making a big move
- Former Jacksonville Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien: “New Profession, Same Standards”
In comparison, Derek Carr (fifth in the NFL) has thrown the ball 499 times, Marcus Mariota (20th) has thrown the ball 398 times, and Dak Prescott (23rd) has thrown the ball 395 times. Those quarterbacks are having big, big years and are being asked to do less than Bortles. Carr is the closest in attempts, but he’s almost a full game amount of attempts behind Bortles.
This offense is relying too much on the quarterback’s arm. Drew Brees (second) and Aaron Rodgers (fourth) can get away with doing this. They’re in a system designed around them passing often and quickly. They’re also multi-year veterans with stable coaching around them. Bortles does not have those advantages.
While it’s fair to criticize Blake Bortles for his poor play – especially his huge mistakes – it is also fair to point out that he is being asked to be too much. One of the younger quarterbacks to put on a helmet and lead a team, Bortles’ development is being hindered by the fact that the team he is leading can’t produce without him.
The Jags haven’t done right by their quarterback. The offensive line before 2016 was a joke and the running game has never been up to league standards. Whoever comes in for 2017 may have to take a long, hard look at Bortles and find a balanced system that works for him and the team.