Blake Bortles struggled through a painful 2016 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it’s all a matter of rebounding according to tight end Marcedes Lewis.
As Marcedes Lewis continues to take on the sage-veteran role for the Jacksonville Jaguars, it is important to listen to his words. The longest-tenured player on the team, Lewis offers up 11 seasons of wisdom for those who are willing to hear it.
Hopefully quarterback Blake Bortles is one of those players willing to take it to heart.
In light of Bortles’ struggles in 2016, plenty of criticism has been leveled his way. Much of it is deserved and much of it needs to be examined closer (and has been for most of the offseason), but he needs to be able to put it behind him. Quarterbacks need to have short memories.
That is exactly what Lewis told nfl.com’s Lakisha Jackson in talking about his quarterback:
"He’s young. Like I was saying earlier, if you’re blessed enough to play a long time in this league, you gonna have two or three years that are not your best years. Honestly, nobody cares what you did the year before. It’s all about what you’re going to do this year. My job for [Bortles], from a psychological stand point, is to keep his head up. Me being a veteran, I’ve been there. I’ve had years where I’ve been like, “Eh, I’ll rather take that one back,” but if you let that defeat you and let the people that don’t put in the work with you defeat you, then you become exactly what they want you to become. And I don’t think that’s who he is."
The resiliency that Bortles has displayed in his young career is one of his best characteristics. While he has made plenty of mistakes, Bortles has never become too discouraged and is willing to continue to play his game and take risks. He has not become gun-shy.
The difference between Bortles and his “franchise passer” predecessor, Blaine Gabbert, is stark in that regard. The number of wins, however, is not. Both players have not delivered.
Getting bogged down in that will probably not help Bortles, though. He needs to keep looking forward and get his mind in the right place to rebound. He needs to be able to put the past behind him, no matter what critical outlets say, and stay focused on being the best passer he can be.
While Bortles does not have 10-plus seasons to look back on and easily just say “eh, I’ll rather take that one back,” he can rely on players like Lewis who have done that in the past. With few veterans leading the team in Bortles’ short tenure with the Jaguars, he needs to learn from players like Lewis.
Embrace the past but don’t dwell in it. That needs to be Bortles’ motto for the coming season. Otherwise, no rebound may be possible.