As offseason activities are ramping up, the Jacksonville Jaguars will need to worker harder under head coach Doug Marrone to prove their talent. The beginning of last season was hyped due to the increase in talent on the roster from the previous season. But that didn’t translate to production in the standings, exiting the 2016 season with three wins. Now the next season is upon us, and once again, the Jacksonville Jaguars added even more talent to both sides of the football. With Gus Bradley out of the picture, the entire season will most definitely fall on the play of their quarterback Blake Bortles.
Entering his rookie year in 2014, Blake Bortles was drawing some comparisons to Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, with similarities in size and ability. But so far, the Jaguars have seen very little truth to any of those predictions. Bortles had a typical rookie year in 2014 before having a solid year in 2015. That led fans and analysts alike to have hope for his play last season, where he underperformed tremendously. He threw 12 less touchdowns in 2016 compared to his respectable stats in 2016. He threw a career-low 16 interceptions as well. For a career low, that shows just how little of improvement has been made in three full season in the NFL on decision-making. His longest completed pass last season only went for 51 yards, and his QBR resulted in an awful 49.2 for the season.
To prepare for the 2017 season, Blake Bortles will now have no excuses. He will have the best offensive line he’s had yet in Jacksonville. Glimpses of this can be seen from last season. While the offensive line was never great, they only let Bortles get sacked 34 times on the season, a vast improvement from both 2014 and 2015. The free agency period brought in even more talent on defense. The draft brought a top offensive lineman as well as arguably the best running back available. One thing that doesn’t fall on Bortles is that he’s never had a consistent or reliable run game. Having Leonard Fournette in the backfield should ease the pressure off of Bortles to create offense alone. With a reliable rushing attack, Bortles should have the chances to make some better throws against a defense that will have to respect a running back like Fournette. Bortles will have the best defense he’s had yet. He will have the most talented running back he’s ever played with on his team. And with the best offensive line since he came to Jacksonville, any lack of production will likely fall entirely on his shoulders.
If this season ends in failure, it will likely be the end of Blake Bortles, and a statement showing that fans of the Jaguars will have many years to wait before reaching the playoffs again. A main problem that has needed to be focused on are his mechanics. He worked on them with quarterback guru Tom House heading into the 2015 season, which produced his greatest results. He then backtracked in 2016, after not participating in training exercises with House again. He seems to have learned his lesson though, as he has now spent early parts of his summer in California with House once more. Realizing too that this may be his last chance, this could be a promising sign of things to come for the Jaguars. However, if he doesn’t bring wins to the city of Jacksonville, his time will be up come 2018. Jay Cutler has spent nine seasons as a starter at quarterback in the NFL. Colin Kaepernick made a Super Bowl appearance under center. If neither of these men have landed jobs in 2017, Bortles will certainly never lead a team after another disappointing season. And worse, for the Jacksonville Jaguars, that means another long search for their true franchise quarterback.
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