Blake Bortles has had a roller-coaster of a career, as Jaguars fans typically don’t know how to take the fourth-year QB out of University of Central Florida. One week, Bortles could throw 250+ yards and three touchdowns, and the next he could throw three interceptions and less than 200 yards. Bortles has extreme inconsistencies and never seems to maintain a consistent statistics from week-to-week. When we take a look at last season though, it was by far the most consistent we have seen from the 26-year old.
Throughout 2017, Blake Bortles finished with 3,687 yards, 21 TDs, 13 INTs and a completion percentage of 60.2%. It was a career-low in interceptions and a career-high in terms of completion percentage. In 2018, Bortles enters a contract year which will prove one of two things: He is a quality starting quarterback, or he needs to be replaced.
The pressure is on for Bortles, as he just hasn’t proven he is a top tier QB, but isn’t at the point to being labeled a bust. This year will be a true test for Blake Bortles, as there are multiple aspects to discuss.
The first thing is the wide receiver core. Since coming into the league, Bortles has always had a mid-tier arsenal of weapons to use in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marquise Lee and Mercedes Lewis among others. All of the aforementioned receivers are either out of Jacksonville or currently injured. This year, the depth chart at wide receiver is as follows:
- Keelan Cole (42 receptions, 3 TDs, 748 receiving yards last year)
- Dede Westbrook (27 receptions, 1 TD, 339 receiving yards last year)
- Donte Moncrief (26 receptions, 1 TD, 329 receiving yards last year)
- Rashad Greene (5 receptions, 32 receiving yards last year)
- DJ Chark (Rookie)
None of these receivers have enough experience against top-tier defenders, and Bortles will have to take leadership to get these younger players energized.
Secondly, the defense of Jacksonville is elite, ranked as the #2 overall unit last season. Blake Bortles will have to do his part if the roster has hopes of getting past the likes of elite AFC competition such as the New England Patriots. If Bortles can’t get the Jaguars a championship, the front office will find a suitor who can. This team has potential to becoming an AFC powerhouse, but if it all rides on whether Blake Bortles can preform or not, there may be concern.
While many used to write off the AFC South as a weaker division, there is some actual competition heading into 2018. The Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans both upgraded on both sides of the ball. In addition, the Texans have Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt fully healthy this season after they both suffered season-ending injuries in 2017. In result, Jacksonville will have to fend off the likes of Watson, Marcus Mariota and Andrew Luck a total of six times this season.
The stakes are at an all-time high for Blake Bortles, as he’ll need to prove he is more than just another game manager in the NFL. He has the capability to produce another 35+ TD season and improve on all major categories. It all rides on him and his play this year, and while his preseason play has been a memory to quickly forget, his future past this season rests on his shoulders.
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