The news of the week is the new power structure in Jacksonville, but the team’s success still hinges on Blake Bortles and his struggles.
When Tom Coughlin begins his work as the new head of football operations in Jacksonville, his first order of business is to figure out what to do with Blake Bortles. General manager (or whatever he is now) Dave Caldwell clearly still believes in Bortles, but he does have a horse in the race in the sense that Bortles is “his guy” for better or worse.
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Unless Coughlin has some conviction about acquiring another quarterback, Bortles is most likely going to be the guy in 2017 at the very least. Working under that premise, the big question now is if and how can Bortles improve from a massively disappointing third season.
Albert Breer over at the MMQB recently discussed the hiring of Doug Marrone and what that means for Blake Bortles. Breer asked two scouts whether or not they think Bortles is salvageable, and the answers are encouraging:
"So the central question in all of this: Is Bortles actually fixable?“I don’t think he’s as terrible as everyone makes him out to be,” said one AFC personnel exec. “He needs to clean up his mechanics obviously, but the offense hasn’t helped him. If your expectations are for him to be a top-five QB, then no, he’s not that. If it’s for him to be 15-20, then sure, they should be able to get him there.”Asked if the Jags QB is salvageable, an NFC exec answered directly: “Yes, if you establish a run game, get him in a West Coast offense, with a quick rhythm passing game. His mechanics were f—- up all year.”"
I think outside of some hot take Twitter folks fueled by confirmation bias, this is the general consensus on Bortles. Blake made huge strides in his sophomore season and genuinely looked like a franchise quarterback. His mechanics improved in his second season and then drastically degraded last year. While some want to blame his lack of drive for not continuing to work on his mechanics this past offseason, it appears to have been a decision prompted by offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
This offseason will almost certainly be filled with the narrative of Bortles tirelessly working on his mechanics. If he wants to continue being the starting quarterback, he has to translate it to the field in 2017.