In May the new front office team for the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to pick up Blake Bortles’ fifth year option. The option will cost the team $19 million, which in the modern NFL is not outrageous for a quarterback. Though it is outrageous for Blake Bortles.
Time to move on
Bortles isn’t good. We’ve known this for a while. While some of his struggles have been due to poor protection and average coaches, he has some truly shocking numbers. He’s thrown just seven touchdowns in the first quarter, had a 51% pass completion rate in the red zone, and has a QB rating at home of just 75.4.
While the Jags have the cap space to eat such a massive hit relatively comfortably, it’s still a lot of money to pay someone who is yet to complete 60% of his passes in a single year, or throw less than a pick per game.
The cherry on the “time to move on” cake came from a training camp video in which Allen Robinson won a vertical route against the Buccaneers in a joint practice, only to watch the ball sail out of bounds…
Meanwhile, in Kansas City Alex Smith is a lame duck. After the Chiefs traded all the way up to #10 for Patrick Mahomes, who has looked good in his preseason appearances so far.
Even if Smith starts in Week 1 against the Patriots it’s going to be tough to fend off Mahomes for long, especially as in 2018, the last year of his contract, Smith’s cap hit jumps up to $20.6 million.
Right now the Chiefs can save $7.8 million by dealing the veteran quarterback, and the Jaguars can instantly improve the poorest part of their game by parting with a draft pick or two. It wouldn’t even have to be that high a pick. Wouldn’t a third rounder make sense? Both teams get better, the Chiefs avoid a season-long QB controversy and Allen Robinson gets a quarterback who can put the ball where he can catch it.
Smith isn’t perfect. His limitations are well-known, but he can distribute the ball, and importantly he poses enough of a threat through the air to keep the ground game open. In his four years with Kansas City, when he had both consistent playing time and consistent coaching, he was very serviceable.
A 64.5% completion rate, 13,566 yards, 76 touchdowns, 28 interceptions, a 92.2 rating and 7.0 yards per attempt. Those numbers don’t pop, but they don’t kill you, which is what Bortles is currently doing.
The fact of the matter is that the Jaguars are stuck with Bortles this season. It’s too late to make a deal barring extreme circumstances such as the Sam Bradford move last year. He hasn’t looked strong this preseason, showing inconsistencies on the deep ball (the only thing Alex Smith doesn’t do well) and some dodgy decision-making.
There is a lot of talent around Bortles. In the same 2014 Draft where they took Bortles, they also came home from New York with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who are one of the better receiver tandems in the NFL. They are able to beat coverages and can catch almost anything, it’s just Bortles can’t get it into catchable range often enough.
The 2017 Jags are primed to make a push. They invested heavily into the defense in the offseason. Throwing money at AJ Bouye, Barry Church, and Calais Campbell to add to the likes of Dante Fowler, Myles Jack, and Jalen Ramsey who have been drafted recently. The defense is ready to compete. The wide receivers are ready to compete. Leonard Fournette hasn’t taken an NFL snap yet and he’s already talking trash about the league. The whole roster is hungry to drag the Jacksonville Jaguars into the playoffs. The problem is that Blake Bortles simply isn’t.
He has had three years to grow and improve, and he simply hasn’t. There is a bump in his stats in 2015, which is from Allen Robinson taking the league by storm, but once defenses adjusted to his talents, the stats came tumbling down again.
He simply isn’t good enough to help the team grow and take the next step, never mind that $19 million paycheck he’s going to collect in 2018. He is the bottleneck of this team, and it’s one that Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone should clear as soon as possible. They have already said that quarterback position is now up for grabs. Would it really be such a bad idea to give Andy Reid a call?
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