A 3-13 campaign for the 2016 season fell far below most expectations. “Coloring With Teal” will tackle the controversial moves and decisions of the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into the offseason over the next few weeks, starting with quarterback Blake Bortles.
I hope not to spoil it, but then you probably already know that the Jaguars didn’t fare so well in 2016.
Failed football seasons (even those that make it to the Super Bowl and lose their grip on a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter) always lead to the fans and the teams doing soul-searching, asking why things went awry. The Jacksonville Jaguars are no different, and perhaps are one of the few teams whose season actually went far worse than many predicted last offseason.
After watching the Jags’ latest offseason moves, as well as the reaction by fans and sports writers alike, I have gathered my thoughts on some factors. My central point for this article is to figure out what to expect regarding Jaguars quarterback, Blake Bortles. After that, I want to look at the coaching staff and see if we finally have that ‘winning formula’ every team is looking for.
Blake Bortles had a bad year. There, I said it. Whew!
His statistics fell from the year before, 2015, when he set many franchise passing records. Many of those records had been in place since Mark Brunell in the late ’90s. I dropped by my favorite quick-notes website, and looked up Bortles’ statistics. Here’s the table:
In the preceding paragraph, the first sentence said “massive regression, as shown by his poor statistics.” I had to stare at the number for 2015 and 2016 seasons in order to really discover the “poor statistics” that showed his “regression” from 2015 to 2016. It is not obvious to me, until you look at the touchdown-to-interception ratio. Everything else looks comparable.
For instance, he attempted 19 more throws and completed 13 more of them over the previous season, yet his total yards dropped by about 500 yards (about two solid games’ worth). Yet his completion percentage held actually improved (0.3 points is small, but still improved). His passer rating dropped ten points but not to his rookie levels, where his TD/Int ratio was upside-down. So wait, did he have a “bad” season?
Well, yes, but not for statistics. He needed to increase his TDs and stop throwing the ball to the defenders, but there are a multitude of other factors there which play in, most of which belong on the coaches and front office. The bit that belongs on Bortles’ shoulders is decision-making and mechanics.
And there it is. Mechanics.
I’ll touch on his decision-making for 2017 in an article next week, when I delve into the new triumvirate of Coughlin, Caldwell, and Marrone. Today, let’s talk mechanics.
People want to bring in another quarterback to compete with Blake, which is fine, but I think that Blake is going to be notably improved for 2017
I have read article after article, on NFL.com, ESPN.com, SI.com, BigCatCountry.com, Jaguars.com, and even on this very site that Bortles may not be the “franchise quarterback”. These articles all say Bortles’ mechanics are trash and shouldn’t be for a third-year quarterback, and this combined with his questionable decision-making means that the team should bench or even cut him. Cut him! Trade him! And these people mean it!
A factor that I think many many people are overlooking is the fact that during the 2016 offseason, Bortles did not spend much time with the Master Yoda of Quarterbacking, Tom House (3DQB). In an interview last spring, Bortles remarked that he did not spend much time there and opted to stay in Jacksonville to work with his receivers. That sounded fine to us fans, since he had such a stellar showing in the 2015 season. His mechanics weren’t the problem then, right?
Wrong. In fact, it came out after the 2016 season that he was actually instructed by plastic-haired OC Greg ‘Oley Oley Olsen Says I’m Free’ Olsen that he should not go to Tom House, because Greg and Tom weren’t friends anymore. So the quarterback takes the advice of his coordinator, and the result was his weakened mechanics. But how can we be sure?
A quick google search of his game-by-game stats shows that through much of the season, his stats bounced around all over the place. Week 15, the infamous Texans game, he was at a season low of 42% completion for 92 yards, 0 TD, 1 Int, and a passer rating of 36.6.
However, the next game, at the Titans, after a week of working with Doug Marrone as the ship’s captain, suddenly he has 68 percent completion for 325 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int, and a passer rating of 103.5. and a win. That was then followed by a second week of Marrone (Week 17, at Indy), and his stats were comparable to Week 16 and very nearly a win.
Take a step back and consider his three seasons:
- Rookie season: no mechanics work due to prepping for the draft……bad mechanics and bad statistics for the season
- Year 2: Heavy mechanics work with Tom House. Best statistical season by a Jags quarterback.
- Year 3: Six days with Tom House. Mild statistical regression but noteworthy mechanics falloff.
- Year 4: Planned 10-week work with Tom House. What would you expect?
More from Black and Teal
- 3 takeaways from Jacksonville Jaguars decision to give DE Roy Robertson-Harris new 3-year deal
- Jacksonville Jaguars LB Foyesade Oluokun contract restructure paves the way for other moves
- Jacksonville Jaguars not a realistic trade parter for Jalen Ramsey (past history aside)
- Jaguars News: Jalen Ramsey is available once again
- 3 best landing spots for Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram if he hits free agency in 2023
People want to bring in another quarterback to compete with Blake, which is fine, but based on this, I think that Blake is going to be improved over at least 2016 levels, and perhaps over 2015 levels. I don’t think he’s unquestionably the Greatest Jags QB Of All Time, but I definitely think that his issues are very, very fixable and not the central reason we have had the season records we’ve had.
Let’s take a breath and see what the team does over the next couple of months before we decide that Blake should be given the boot and compared with the likes of such one-hit-wonders as RGIII or worse, yikes, Blaine Gabbert.
Stay tuned; next week we’ll look at Marrone’s influence.