As the Jacksonville Jaguars continue their search for a new head coach, Blake Bortles is the biggest question of the interview process.
After a statistically promising sophomore season, quarterback Blake Bortles looked primed to become one of the top young signal callers in the NFL. His growth from year 1 to year 2 was staggering, so it seemed only natural that the UCF product would continue to get better.
More from Jacksonville Jaguars News
- Jaguars News: This division rival might be making a big move
- Former Jacksonville Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien: “New Profession, Same Standards”
- Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram officially gets the franchise tag: 3 takeaways
- Jaguars News: The offense is in good shape for 2023
- NFL officially reinstates Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley: 3 immediate takeaways
The Jacksonville Jaguars ended the season with a paltry 3 wins and a huge reason why was the regression of Bortles.
Moving forward, the Jaguars need to decide just how much to commit themselves to Bortles as the long-term signal caller. John Kosko over at Pro Football Focus agrees, listing Bortles as the Jaguars’ most crucial offseason question:
"Can Blake Bortles be the franchise?Will the real Blake Bortles stand up? After a rookie season to forget, Bortles made what appeared to be a massive leap in ability in 2015, living up to that No. 3 pick status with a season grade of 80.1. Much like Oakland, the Jaguars were a hot playoff pick this past offseason because of the impressive play of the offense in 2015 and the signing of some splash free agents. Unfortunately, Bortles reverted back to his awful rookie season play, with poor mechanics and decision-making ability.The Jaguars have a solid defense in place, led by rookie CB Jalen Ramsey, DT Malik Jackson, and the surprising improvement from SS John Cyprien. If Bortles can play at an average level, the defense can get this team to the playoffs. Bortles struggled throwing to all areas of the field, except when targeting the intermediate level of 10-19 yards. He has never been good under pressure, grading as one of the worst QBs in the NFL in that area for three straight seasons.Year four in a young quarterback’s career is often a key one. With a new head coach coming to town, the Jaguars will need to figure out if Bortles is the man to carry this team into the foreseeable future."
As Kosko touches on right at the end, Bortles status is the huge question for not just the team but for the incoming head coach. It’s an absolute certainty that Bortles is the central theme of all the head coaching interviews the Jaguars have had and will have.
"Coaching emphasis: fixing Bortles. A simple rule I’ve found teams often follow after firing a head coach is that they tend to hire a new leader who represents the opposite of their old coach’s strengths. Given that Bradley was a former defensive coordinator with an incessantly sunny disposition, it makes sense that the Jags would target an offensive-minded disciplinarian. Wouldn’t you know that there’s one available who happens to be the most successful coach in team history?"
Bortles has made comments after the season finale about needing coaches to be “on him” about his mechanics. The coach Barnwell is referring to in his snippet – Tom Coughlin – honestly does seem like the type of no-nonsense coach that would keep Bortles accountable.
Coughlin seems like a longshot at this point but I still think Bortles is definitely the crux of the coaching hire. I don’t think David Caldwell and the Khans are going to force the new coach to accept Bortles with open arms, but they will likely prefer someone who thinks they can help the young quarterback thrive.
We could be waiting a while to see who that coach actually is.