With playoffs in sight, Jaguars have no reservations about Blake Bortles

 Jaguars have no reservations about Blake Bortles

Bortles, in his fourth season after the Jaguars selected him with the No. 3 pick in 2014, has remade his game enough to be the type of quarterback a team with the NFL’s best defense needs – one who has cut down on his mistakes but remains confident enough to take big shots when needed.

His passing has dropped to an average of 217 yards per game after throwing for 276 in 2015. He’s also on pace for 20 touchdowns, which would be the lowest since his rookie season in which he started 14 games. 

Jaguars have no reservations about Blake Bortles

Jaguars have no reservations about Blake Bortles

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But his interception numbers have plummeted as well, with just eight picks in 13 games after throwing 51 the previous three seasons. His current mark is below that of Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson, who threw three interceptions in the Jaguars’ 30-24 win over the Seahawks on Sunday. 

Bortles threw two touchdowns in the game, each to a rookie receiver. His 75-yard touchdown pass to rookie Keelan Cole, one play after the Seahawks tied the game at 10, was a reflection of his confidence, as well as his team’s belief in him during the Jaguars’ first meaningful December stretch since he arrived.

“We’ve said it all year long, there’s going to come a time when we’re going to have to find a way to win offensively,” Bortles said.

Bortles has passed for more than 300 yards just twice this year, and the Jaguars have been at their best offensively when they’ve kept the burden off him. In Jacksonville’s nine wins, Bortles has averaged 30 pass attempts per game (including two outlier performances, a 14-attempt game in a win against Pittsburgh, and a 51-attempt day in a win against the Chargers). In the four losses, Bortles has averaged 34 attempts per game.

“Blake is a top, Pro Bowl quarterback in my mind. Playing his little ass off,” defensive end Malik Jackson told USA TODAY Sports. “Doing what the offense wants him to do and what the offense needs him to do and what the team needs him to do. I couldn't be happier for him.”


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