NFL

Pessimism in Jacksonville

Let’s look at back at the 2014 Draft Profile of Blake Bortles written by Nolan Nawrocki “Possesses ideal size, athletic ability, intangibles and enough arm strength to develop into an upper-echelon quarterback. . .his arrow is very clearly ascending.”  Fast forward to today and Blake Bortles looks like he may lose his starting job to 32 year old veteran Chad Henne.

Yikes.

Many of us were on the “Blake Bortles Train,” and how could we not be?  He looked like what you would want at quarterback.  In year two of Bortles’ young career, he put up promising numbers for a team that went 5-11. He threw for 4,428 passing yards and 35 touchdown passes – sure he had 18 interceptions, but that’s because the team is so bad right?  Eh, last season proved that although the team is far from where people thought they’d be at right now – Bortles has shown zero improvement.  He makes bad decisions and more times than not just looks overwhelmed.  The Jags front office has done an “okay” job helping out Bortles – and for all things considered, in the short time they have had Bortles, they’ve done more than the Chargers have done for Philip Rivers’ whole career – but ANYHOW –

The Jags drafted two starting offensive linemen in Brandon Linder and AJ Cann and right off the bat in 2014 they drafted two wideouts Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson to grown with Bortles.  Robinson has emerged as the clear number one, but his frustrations with Bortles are becoming evident as his numbers declined from 2015 to 2016 as well. This season they’ve added two guys who many think can play in this league for a long, long time: Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson and LSU running back Leonard Fourtnette.  This is supposed to be Bortles’ year to “put up or shut up” but the Jags are considering to shut him down completely in favor of veteran Chad Henne.

This move would destroy the Jags season and the hope of all Jags fans right at the start of week one.

With no disrespect to Chad Henne, this move means the Jags are nowhere near having their franchise quarterback and this season will be another four or five win (at best) campaign for Jacksonville.  The AFC South is a win-able division by most standards.  Houston is the “best” team in the division but nobody in their right mind would think they’d win 10 games or have a deep playoff run; the Titans are on the “come-up” but so were the Jags a year ago; and the Colts are Andrew Luck, surrounded by a squad of “guys who would get cut else-where.”

On paper Bortles should not lose the starting job to Henne.  To be honest, Henne’s only job in Jacksonville was to serve as a veteran quarterback to help mentor Bortles.  He’s supposed to be someone who solidifies the fact that Bortles is the number one guy in Jacksonville.  Instead, Bortles is looking over his shoulder and right at Henne.

Bortles has failed to impress so far this pre-season, and as ESPN pointed out “The Jaguars punted on all 4 drives with Blake Bortles at QB tonight, and have 3 points in 6 series with him on the field this preseason.”

Bortles has pre-season match-ups against the Panthers and the Falcons.  The Panthers game is the most important of the two because it’s usually the third preseason game of the season where coaches let their starters play a full half.  If that’s the case, that’s a pretty aggressive defense for Bortles to play for his life against.

And they say the pre-season is meaningless.

Well, it is pretty meaningless, but when you’re a perennial bottom feeder like the Jaguars – it’s a different story.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

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