Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has yet to prove he is the answer at quarterback even with the team publicly backing him.
By year four most NFL teams know whether the starting quarterback is the answer or not. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, things are a bit more messy.
With such a young quarterback like Bortles leading the team, full of raw talent, it’s tough to say it’s time to abandon him following a regression in 2016. This makes his 2017 performance all the more critical. While the team is committed to him, he will have to show progress or the team may be forced to move on from his long development.
Quarterbacks carry teams and if they aren’t capable of being something special, they usually show that quickly. Bortles’ talent makes the “wait and see” approach more feasible because he could theoretically be molded into a better quarterback but at the end of the day he needs to perform effectively and start winning games.
At this point, it’s uncertain whether Bortles can do that.
The addition of quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich may be the most critical move of the offseason and he will be tasked with turning Bortles around quickly and also so he is built for a long, successful career. That job will be difficult and it will likely hit some speed bumps along the way.
The Jags have not announced how they will measure success for Bortles in 2017, but it should be by the all-important metric of wins. If he can’t win games and continues to cost the team wins with inopportune turnovers (particularly pick-sixes) then the team will have its answer. If he somehow cuts down on the mistakes and returns to 2015-levels of production, then the Jags may have also the answer.
It is unlikely that it will be that clear cut, though. In the case of ambiguity, it’s worth wondering if the Jags will be willing to move on following 2017. The answer in today’s win-now NFL is an unequivocal yes. The Jags need a winner soon and if Bortles can’t do it, it will be time to move on.