Blake Bortles, quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, needs to prove he belongs in Tom Coughlin’s new world order centered on toughness, and that begins by bouncing back in 2017.
Will two months working with 3DQB be enough to turn Blake Bortles back into an electric passer rather than the demoralizing regressed third-year starter the NFL world witnessed in 2016? That’s the question every Jacksonville Jaguars fan should be asking as the Jags ramp up their offseason free agency and draft searches.
It’s also a question that executive vice president for football operations Tom Coughlin is asking. Can Bortles actually turn things around.
In his pre-combine press conference, Coughlin singled out Bortles’ propensity for creating turnovers as something he has to improve on. Media outlets immediately jumped on this as Coughlin “tip-toeing” around a commitment to Bortles that he made when he first returned to Jacksonville.
While there is some truth to the fact that the Jags need to wisely evaluate the quarterback position and not just hand it to Bortles, it’s also important to recognize that this is no new bit of information. Coughlin himself said this in his presser, noting that, “I think he’d [Bortles] be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do.”
With 63 turnovers in his career (the most in the NFL over that three-year span) and 11 of those being pick-sixes, it’s clear that Bortles is a liability. It can be offset by monster years like 2015’s franchise-record 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns, but it can also completely decimate a team like 2016’s 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions to go with eight fumbles.
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What Bortles is doing by working with 3DQB for two months is showing he is committed to rebounding. He is showing that he will put in the tough work to come in for 2017 and be the best quarterback he can be. He knows that he has to prove himself to Coughlin and that the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars are not going to settle for simply getting better anymore.
Coughlin will hold the Jaguars accountable going forward and he will not be afraid to move on from a quarterback that he had no hand in selecting. If Bortles doesn’t deliver, Coughlin is not going to tip-toe around whether he is the starter or not. He will make that change.
Right now Chad Henne does not present a challenge as a backup quarterback but Brandon Allen could step up to be the team’s future. If Bortles cannot prove his toughness through his offseason work and translate that progress onto the field, the Jags’ new commitment to accountability may see them make a change at quarterback.
For those invested in Blake Bortles and those who want to see him succeed, this offseason work is critical.