Blake Bortles started turning the corner in 2017 and should take another step in 2018
In his Monday Morning Quarterback column, Albert Breer discussed how Blake Bortles improved in 2017 and why there’s still hope he can become a franchise QB.
Even with all the progress made as a team in 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars still had to deal with both analysts and players mocking their starting quarterback. It was lazy analysis at best and did a disservice to Blake Bortles as he put together his most efficient season as a professional.
For a guy who most have already labeled a bust, it was a promising move in the right direction.
Albert Breer, the new purveyor of the Monday Morning quarterback, devoted part of his piece to the young Jacksonville signal caller, specifically citing some quotes from offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Hackett highlighted a certain play he called multiple times – a designed deep shot that Bortles eschewed for a check-down to his running back.
"“Why do you keep calling that?” Bortles asked, after that series. “It’s not there.”“Blake, you were brilliant,” Hackett responded. “They all dropped down and you got it to the running backs.”This, in a nutshell, is where Bortles got better last year, and it’s a piece—and not an insignificant one—of how the Jaguars broke through in 2017. It’s also why Hackett has optimism where others might not, that Bortles can still become the franchise quarterback GM Dave Caldwell and the team envisioned him to be four years ago."
Hackett discussed how much work he and Bortles had to do to get the fourth year passer to learn how to play the position:
"And it might sound weird, but as Hackett saw it, the biggest thing Bortles had to learn was to play quarterback, rather than just play football. The knock on him back in 2014, that he was raw, plays right into that. That checkdown was a response to it.“I remember my first meeting with Blake [in 2015], asking him, ‘Do you know what this means?’ Nope. ‘Do you know what this means?’ Nope,” Hackett said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh goodness, we’ve got to go back to the beginning.’ And those are things that, once you process it, he may want to be like, ‘Let’s go out there and do it.’ And you’re like, ‘Hold on, buddy.’ And as a young guy, he was scrambling."
Next: Expectations high for Bortles in 2018
One of the themes I’ve pounded into the ground since Doug Marrone took over as head coach was how much the team would improve solely because of the coaching upgrade. It gets overshadowed by how nice he was, but it’s hard to exaggerate just how bad Gus Bradley and his staff were at coaching and developing during their time in Jacksonville. Bortles was the totem for that – he didn’t really improve in a tangible way at any of the things a modern quarterback needs to in order to become a viable starter. Stability and structure are so important for a young quarterback and Bortles didn’t have either of those during his first 3 seasons.
Most have either already written off Bortles or will before the season begins, but there’s a real chance he can become an above average quarterback. If he does, the Jaguars will be a Super Bowl contender in 2018 and beyond.