The scene was set for a fairy tale ending. Home town boy lights up the skies with an impressive collegiate passing attack, then moves a few hundred miles up the road to revive a winning culture in the nearest professional team. Of course, we’re talking about Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had the college stats and NFL physique when he was drafted third overall by the Jags in 2014, but after three seasons and a profound lack of development in the position, no one would be surprised if the team decides to pull the plug on the Bortles experiment and go in search of a new franchise savior.
Even if one were to examine Blake Bortles merely on his numbers, it would be hard to justify keeping him around. The 11,000 yards and 69 touchdown passes he’s thrown in his first three seasons only tell part of the tale. The man has an 11-34 won-loss record, leads the league with 63 giveaways, and has thrown 11 pick-sixes. In a game where the team with the fewest turnovers usually wins, not being able to protect the pigskin is often the death knell for a quarterback. Combine this with a passer-rating of less than 80 last season, and it’s hard to find reasons to keep him in the starting job.
It’s easy to understand the Jags reluctance to give up on such a high draft choice, but new Executive Vice-President Tom Coughlin, a man who won two Super Bowls as head coach of the New York Giants, knows a thing or two about winning quarterbacks, having overseen Eli Manning’s development from reckless rookie to even-tempered veteran. It’s hard to think that Coughlin or Jags head coach Doug Marrone are liking much of what they see on the field right now out of Bortles.
Part of the reluctance to move Bortles down on the depth chart has to do with the other two quarterbacks on the roster. Backup is Chad Henne, a veteran with an up-and-down. The bottom line is Henne has more interceptions than touchdowns and a career passer-rating of 75.5 – hardly the stuff upon which championship dreams are built. After years in the league, he has failed to distinguish himself by on-field performance.
Perhaps the most interesting challenger to Bortles job is Brandon Allen, a former Arkansas Razorback who lit up the SEC in his senior season but had little opportunity to show what he could do in his first season in the NFL. In the Jags last preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Allen looked better than both Bortles and Henne, completing 10 of 15 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
Would Marrone consider starting an inexperienced third-stringer? Maybe. He claims the job is up for grabs. The worst part is that the Jags have more talent on offense in skill positions than they’ve had in years, especially at receiver. But if you can’t get them the ball…
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