Jacksonville Jaguars should put 2017 in Bortles’s hands


Throughout the 2017 off-season, Jacksonville Jaguars officials are trying to “win now.” Despite preaching a strong running game, they should rely on Blake Bortles for the good of the team.

It’s entirely possible that placing the 2017 season in the hands of the fourth-year quarterback results in less wins than a game plan centered around a backfield led by Leonard Fournette and company. However, this strategy provides a very important thing for the 2018 season: an answer at quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars

The 2018 draft class looks like the most loaded in recent memory with as many as five potential franchise passers. The worst-case scenario for the Jaguars is drafting in the middle of the first round. Worse still, they may not know if they have a quarterback.

Though head coach Doug Marrone would prefer Bortles not throw at all in each game, this is not a path to victory in the NFL. Teams are not relevant unless they possess a franchise quarterback. Although enduring yet another losing season is a depressing thought, 2017 needs to center around one key question.

Do the Jaguars need to take another swing at a top-flight quarterback?

Leaning on Leonard Fournette as a contingency plan could boost the Jaguars win total into respectability this year. It’s still not a likely blueprint towards long-term success. There are examples through the years of Super Bowl winning teams that lack a true franchise passer. It’s a more difficult road to the dance than having a quarterback who can shred defenses on a weekly basis.

Often, teams that rely on strong defenses and running games are also-rans once it comes to playoff time.  Worse yet, even teams that make noise in the postseason using this formula have a tough time returning.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers faded into obscurity after their 2002 Super Bowl win. They failed to return to the post-season since.  After their title in 2015 season the Denver Broncos missed the playoffs the next year and with the emergence of Derek Carr and presence of Phillip Rivers, the 2017 Broncos are not favored in their division.

It’s likely that number three overall draft pick Leonard Fournette is a good, possibly even great player.  He will likely rack up gaudy stats and grace the cover of Fantasy Football magazines. Here’s the problem: teams built around franchise running backs are rarely successful. Adrian Peterson is the best running back of this generation and there’s not much room for debate.  Peterson has one playoff win in his career.

If the ultimate goal in Jacksonville is a long playoff window and a couple Super Bowls, a franchise rusher is not enough.

The Jaguars brass and their long-suffering fans may crave more wins this season. The team could achieve this by hiding their quarterback behind a defense and running game. Is that worth sacrificing the long-term relevance of the Jaguars?

This team cannot afford entering the 2018 season with a question mark at the most critical position.