Blake Bortles is playing at a Pro Bowl level in December and it’s driving people crazy


Blake Bortles has been a big reason for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ recent success. He’s making a lot of his detractors look dumb and they don’t like it.

Before the beginning of the 2017 season, I was among the majority of folks who thought the Jacksonville Jaguars were absolutely nuts for not upgrading the quarterback position. Former first round pick Blake Bortles’ stock could not have been lower and, outside of the front office at Everbank Field, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who thought he could get his act together and become a winning quarterback.

As the Jaguars head into the final two games of the regular season with 10 wins and a playoff berth, it’s time to accept the fact that Blake Bortles has become a viable quarterback.

To say Bortles was polarizing earlier in the year would be inaccurate – basically no one thought he was capable of playing well. Through three games in December however, Bortles has arguably been one of the best signal callers in the league.

Bortles’s QBR (ESPN’s proprietary quarterback stat) over the the last 3 weeks has been stellar:

Bortles has climbed up to 13th overall in the season total QBR rankings (58.0), better than Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Jared Goff, Derek Carr, and Eli Manning. He has essentially the same QBR for the season as Russell Wilson and Drew Brees (58.6).

QBR obviously isn’t a perfect stat, but Bortles has never shown well with these advanced metrics. He has improved significantly by the eye test and that’s reflected in these statistics.

Yes, Bortles has a had a few atrocious plays this season but it’s undeniable – he’s been a better quarterback this season and he’s playing well enough for the Jaguars to be a force in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, this has a few folks upset.

Last week, Earl Thomas was the mouthpiece for a team with a strong claim as the biggest sore losers in sports – the Seattle Seahawks.

This week, Jadeveon Clowney had a hard time reconciling his lack of playmaking and lashed out at Bortles after getting blasted 45-7.

It’s not just the Jaguars’ opponents who don’t know how to process this.

Josh Hill, one of our own here at FanSided, couldn’t get to the keyboard fast enough to trash the young quarterback after his masterful performance on Sunday.

"Because of this, football fans are being lulled into a false sense of thinking he’s actually good — which he is when the team doesn’t need him to carry them on his back. When the Jaguars are leading, Bortles has thrown for over 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns. That means almost 2,000 of his total yards this season have come in games where the Jags win by 15-points or more….We call that garbage time, and it usually comes against bad teams."

This is rich.

It’s also an absolutely absurd argument.

When Blake Bortles put up huge numbers in the 2015, the knock on him was that he produced those numbers in “garbage time” – when they were down double digits and the game was out of reach.

Now, “garbage time” is apparently when the team is leading.

“Garbage time” is not when a quarterback has his team ahead and pads the lead – that’s called putting a team away. If that were true, then half of Tom Brady’s stats from his historic 2007 campaign were garbage time.

Hill digs himself into an even deeper hole of ignorance and confirmation bias when he brings up Russell Wilson for comparison:

"By comparison, Russell Wilson has thrown for almost 2,000 yards while the Seahawks have been trailing. Because of this, Seattle is 8-5 and in a position to make a deep playoff run."

Ah yes, when Wilson throws passes when his team is behind it isn’t “garbage time,” it’s “clutch.” And the 12 hour-old comment about Seattle’s potential playoff run hasn’t aged well after they got blown out by the Rams.

I’m not trying to say Bortles is as good as Wilson (although he did outplay him significantly last week), but to not acknowledge that he’s playing at a high level and has shown marked improvement is disingenuous.

No one likes to be wrong, but it’s time to admit that Blake Bortles might not be bad. Sorry everyone.