Blake Bortles is not having the best summer.
Between terrible days at camp, apparent frustration from teammates regarding his play and lackluster showings during the Jacksonville Jaguars two preseason game the former 3rd overall pick may lose his starting job soon.
Head coach Doug Marrone hinted at a potential quarterback controversy brewing in North Florida after his team’s week 2 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This opens the possibility that Bortles may be replaced with Chad Henne, a quarterback who has only thrown 58 career touchdowns compared to his 63 career interceptions.
Many see this season as Bortles last chance to prove himself as a valuable NFL quarterback after another abysmal 2016 campaign. He is a very athletic player with a strong arm, but he makes mental errors and his accuracy is downright awful.
He displayed these issues Thursday night.
The Jaguars first offensive possession ended on a terrible overthrow from Bortles.
Allen Robinson had outside leverage downfield. After scanning the left side of the field and not finding anyone, Bortles turns left and immediately hurls it towards Robinson. The ball sails on him, though, and falls harmlessly for an incompletion.
The pass was placed terribly. Robinson did not have much separation from his man, but was in position to make a play on a pass towards the sideline. A back-shoulder throw, or anything just behind him and towards the sideline would allow Robinson a chance at the ball. Instead he sails it to high over the top for a pass that could have led to an interception if the safety was quicker reaching the spot.
Bortles would later overthrow Robinson of third down again, and this time put his receiver in danger.
Robinson runs an in route that ends up just short of the first down. He is clearly the primary target on the play, and Bortles stares him down the entirety of his route. This allows the Bucs deep corner and middle linebacker, who were both in zone coverage, to quickly converge on Robinson. If Bortles does not stare down his man, they would be a bit slower getting to him and Robinson would have a chance to make a catch and run for a first down. Instead, they both quickly collapse on Robinson as the ball reaches him. The pass is a little high and Robinson exposes himself going up to grab it. He comes down with it and fortunately did not get sandwiched between to oncoming defenders and take a hard hit. The pass was completed, yes, but Bortles terrible decision making and pocket presence ruined what could have been a great play.
The previous play, which put the Jags in third and long in the first place was another example of Bortles staring down his receiver, tipping the opposing linebackers to what he plans on doing.
This play could have been a quick four yard pick up to Mercedes Lewis to open the playbook a little more for third down. Bortles again zeroed in on his man, and despite a well timed pass had the play broken up by the Bucs middle linebacker.
Bortles watches Lewis on the entire curl route, while the linebacker watched Bortles. Right as the tight end begins to turn the defender realized what is happening, and quickly positions himself to get his around his man and break up the pass.
Bortles only seemed to get worse as the game went on.
The Jaguars quarterback seems to over correct on his issues overthrowing receivers in the first quarter by under throwing them in the second. The play above was arguably his worst pass of the game.
He has a clean pocket, and Robinson has a few steps on his man. Bortles stares down Robinson the entire way, but he even gets away with it as the safety was not anywhere near being in place to break up the pass. The ball is criminally under thrown, though, and an already torched DB almost gets a hand on the pass before it hits the receiver in the knee.
Bortles seemed entirely lost before throwing another awful pass later in the second quarter.
He drops back to pass, then seems to fake a hand off behind him as is he is going for a quarterback draw. There is absolutely no one standing behind him that he is faking to, as running back T.J. Yeldon has already headed out on his route. He then stares down Robinson once again and under throws a pass so badly that a linebacker 10 yards up field from the receiver nearly breaks it up. The ball lands a yard in front of Robinson and the play is wasted.
Robinson’s knees had more targets than anyone Thursday night and managed to draw a pass interference penalty on third down earlier that drive.
Bortles drops back to pass and stares down Robinson yet again. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is playing extremely close coverage on the receiver but Bortles decides to throw it that direction anyways despite having time in the pocket to go through his progressions. Robinson is forced to dive on the ground the grab it and gets tangled up with Hargreaves.
The pass falls innocently to the ground but Hargreaves is called for a questionable DPI to extend the drive.
There are fundamental issues in the way Blake Bortles plays quarterback that need to be addressed for him to ever be successful in the NFL. He rarely goes through his progressions and just stares down, and eventually throws too, his first option. Even when he does have an open man, he is terrible at placing the ball correctly.
He may have more time to correct these issues then many Jaguars fans would like to admit. Chad Henne is really bad, and Colin Kaepernick is the only free agent quarterback available worth looking at. As much as it pains me to say it, Kaepernick will most likely not see the field in 2017 due to non-football reasons. So Bortles is most likely safe for at least the first few weeks of the season, but don’t be surprised if he does not finish the season under center in Jacksonville.
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