2017 Grade: .405
2017 3rd Down: .218
Week 1 at Houston: Jacksonville may have found a way to beat my grading system. It includes registering 10 sacks and a defensive score, while hiding the quarterback altogether. Of Bortles’ 22 registered drop backs, nine came on third down – typically short yardage. Yet still, Bortles struggled posting negative plays on 33% of his third down plays. I don’t have any GIFs for you because there were literally zero interesting plays. Blake is playing because no one else is there and the Jaguars made that quite clear with this formula.
Week 2 vs. Tennessee: Bortles lack of anticipation and slow delivery prevent him from being the type of quarterback the Jaguars want (among other things.) His costly first-half fumble and early third quarter interception were results of the two attributes not being up to snuff. Bortles pulled a Bortles by accumulating statistics in garbage time, but those don’t count in this project.
Week 3 vs. Baltimore (London): London is always very welcoming to the Jaguars. Blake Bortles was exceptional in this game. He had three separate third down throws that counted as 2-point plays, and he registered just two negative plays on the day. He threw with touch, accuracy, timing, and he escaped some bad plays along the way. The play below (Bortles first throw of the day) set the tone for his performance the rest of the afternoon.
Week 4 at NY Jets: Bortles’ position on the big-board is the greatest mirage of this project. The Jaguars have protected him as much as they can with the ground game and defense. In this game, he just needed to give them one competent drive, in the second half, to get a victory – he failed. The ball consistently flutters out of his hand like someone just learning how to throw a football and he doesn’t see the field particularly well.
Week 5 at Pittsburgh: As I’ve been saying this whole season, the Jaguars found out how to beat this grading system. Blake Bortles only drops back to throw when it’s absolutely necessary. He is playing well within what they’re asking him to do. Even his interception was a good play on his part. It was just a fluke of an occurrence, and a great example of why stats mean nothing.
Week 6 vs. LA Rams: The recipe for success in Jacksonville is limiting the number of plays Blake Borltes is asked to do something above basic quarterbacking. Hidden somewhere in the abyss is a good player (see GIF below), but that development never happened. He is the most handcuffed quarterback in the NFL and, when the game is on the line, you can see why. He just doesn’t have it.
2016: The Ugly Duckling Delivery
Blake Bortles is pretty damn good – when his team is trailing by 30 points and the defense has switched to a soft, ‘nothing-over-our-heads’ coverage.
The embattled-quarterback is heading into his fourth season and the game is still far too fast for him. He begins to panic like a cornered prey when the slightest modicum of pass rush engulfs him. His post-snap reads remind me of the student that studies all night and then the second the test is distributed, it all goes out the window and he starts filling in random patterns on the Scan Tron test sheet. I didn’t see a quarterback that threw the ball directly to more defenders that were either spying, standing-still in a zone or dropping right into the hook zone.
In defense of Bortles, the Jaguars offense did him no favors. The concepts are vanilla and often attack heavily covered areas of deep zone coverage. There are multiple occurrences where the route combination floods a deep corner of cover four an area of quarters coverage.
Along with being behind in the mental aspect of the game, Bortles features the ugliest, most broken throwing motion I have ever seen. Dropping the football perpendicular to the ground and torqueing it around like an energy-turbine, he’s an easy strip sack target. It doesn’t help that he has little sense of open-areas within the pocket.
When he does escape pressure, he’s a pretty surprising athlete that sprung some lengthy scampers. He doesn’t ignore many open-targets and usually attacks down the field and even throws a pretty decent back shoulder ball.
That’s about where the compliments end. His ball has to be one of the more difficult catches in the league – rarely throwing a spiral and with little zip. When he tests the perimeters on speed outs, you can almost feel the air vacate his lungs as he anticipates the fluttering duck getting jumped by a defender.
He is so robotic in going through his progressions that it looks like he has his mind made up where the pass is going before the snap and, when it’s not there, that’s when chaos ensues. He looked like a different quarterback as the season progressed and the bad performances started to stack up. He played with confidence in week one and, come week three, it was entirely gone.
Enough piling on, the Jaguars offense is a mess. They throw far too often and are typically in third-and-long situations. If the Jaguars can give him more favorable passing downs and utilize his surprising athleticism more, there may be hope yet. Drafting Leonard Fournette and becoming a run-heavy, play action complimentary offense is the best hope for getting anything out of the former number three pick in the draft.