Blake Bortles was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in 2014 by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming from UCF, Bortles and fans alike felt like the quarterback sounded like the right fit, will some draft analysts comparing his potential to Ben Roethlisberger due to size and similarity in skill set. But unfortunately for the Jaguars organization and fans, Bortles hasn’t come close to what even a young Roethlisberger brought to the football field. While entering his third full season, with it being known rather than said that this is his last chance to earn the starting position on the team, now may be a better time for the team to put a new face under center who will start on Sundays.
To sum things up plainly, Bortles had a typical rookie year, a solid 2015 season, and a horrendous 2016 campaign. Seeing regression in your starting quarterback is never a good sign, as they should improve with each new season. Especially in Jacksonville, where the team has consistently become more talented in all facets of the game in other positions. The bottom line is that Bortles turns the ball over too much in each of his seasons, and he’s never had the consistency that’s needed to be successful in the NFL. While it makes sense to give Bortles one last chance to see if he can mature in confidence and produce a winning season in 2017, this is again the most talent the Jaguars have rostered in quite some time. A starting quarterback who turns the ball over less and is more patient with the football could take this team much further than Bortles is capable of doing. If not downright looking for a replacement to fully start in Week 1, then Jacksonville should at least be looking to add competition stronger than Chad Henne and Brandon Allen.
So, what options realistically exist out there? As far as free agents though, one might as well bring up Colin Kaepernick of course. He would instantly become the backup if not completely win the starting job in the beginning of the season once he learns the playbook. Robert Griffin III is another intriguing option. You certainly can’t plan for him to be the runaway start, most reasonably due to his injury history, but seeing what he’s capable of in a tryout could give Blake Bortles some decent competition. Quarterbacks have come back from injuries before, and don’t forget why RGIII was drafted so highly in the first place. Then there’s Johnny Manziel. As controversial as he was in his short-lived time playing in the NFL, there’s no doubt that he would add a unique element to this offense. Of course, this is all with the hope that his personal issues have been put to rest and he’s fully committed to being the best football player and person he can be. These are all big “if’s”, but if Bortles is awful to start the season, Chad Henne isn’t enough to take the rest of this talent into a playoff push.
What about the possibility of a trade? There are definitely some backups around the league that could challenge Bortles to start for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017. A popular pick would have been Jimmy Garoppolo, but New England seems pretty set on not letting go of their heir to Tom Brady. But other second-stringers, such as A.J. McCarron or Brett Hundley could be intriguing options to bring into the quarterback mix. And what would the Jags need to give up in return? Maybe a second-round pick and/or a wide receiver such as Allen Hurns. The team can afford giving up that pick as well as a receiver, being deep at the position, in order to grab a quarterback who has a good chance of performing more reliably than Blake Bortles.
But so far, there hasn’t been a whisper or leak of news that the Jaguars front office have had any serious thoughts or talks about this. With the preseason underway, getting a strong option at quarterback to compete with Blake Bortles early is pivotal. They’ll need time to study the playbook and build a chemistry with the unit. From what we’ve seen from Bortles so far this offseason, coaches and fans should seriously be considering another option at quarterback. Move on from Blake Bortles and let this talented group excel with a leader who can throw consistently on the field, making smart decisions. With the run game being a focal point of this offense in 2017 behind rookie Leonard Fournette, there are certainly quarterbacks available that can give this team another option to carry them into a tough fight atop the AFC South. The team is stacked on both sides of the football. Now’s the time to move on from Bortle. Now more than ever.
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