After a horrific year in 2016, former first round pick Blake Bortles is redeeming himself this year and establishing himself as a winning quarterback.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles entered the league in 2014 with some pretty lofty expectations. Bortles was the 3rd overall pick in a draft that, in retrospect, was loaded with talent.
Since then, the perception of the young quarterback has bounced up and down on an almost weekly basis.
As a rookie, Bortles was thrown into the fire after 2-and-a-half games as the team scrapped the plan to redshirt him in his first season. Unsurprisingly, Bortles struggled for the most part with the occasional highlight play here and there.
In his second season, Bortles put up franchise records in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Unfortunately, the team only won 5 games and analysts belittled his production, chalking most of it up to “garbage time.”
Bortles had plenty of believers at the beginning of the 2016 season, but his production and play were so bad last year that he effectively lost all support outside of Jacksonville
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With the bar extremely low, Bortles has exceeded expectations in 2017. The Jaguars are winning games handily as they enter the second half of the season 5-3. While the defense has done most of the heavy lifting, Bortles has put the offense on his back at times and performed admirably.
One analyst who was as high as anyone on Bortles after his 2015 season was Gregg Rosenthal over at NFL.com. After 2015, Bortles was a top 10 quarterback according to Rosenthal.
Since then, Bortles has tumbled down Rosenthal’s weekly QB index.
This year, Bortles hasn’t found his way into the top 16 yet but Rosenthal finally made note of his improved performance:
"MOVING UPBlake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars: It’s happening. After four straight seasons of offseason hype, the Jaguars are in position to make the playoffs. Bortles is not the main reason why it’s happening, but offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has done a great job building the passing game around Bortles’ limitations. The much-maligned QB threw the ball 27 times in the first half against Cincinnati, and has shown better consistency with his short tosses, pocket movement and repeating his mechanics. Bortles arguing with his coach because he wanted to score more points in garbage time with the team ahead is very 2017."
The little garbage-time shot at the end is noted and not really necessary, but it’s nice to see Bortles getting some commendation.
Again, the bar was set extremely low for the young quarterback entering the season but he’s played within the offense and has guided this team to some wins.
If Bortles can continue elevating his play, the ceiling is high for this squad.