It’s still too early to know for sure, but the early results suggest Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is responding to his benching in just the way coach Doug Marrone hoped he would.
Since Bortles briefly yielded his starter’s job to Chad Henne for a game, he has backed up a relatively solid outing in his only exhibition game last week with some impressive play in practice this week.
Borltes, who regained his job as the Week 1 starter after completing 12 of 16 passes for 125 yards, a touchdown and an interception against Carolina last Thursday, has looked like a different quarterback, according to Marrone.
“He’s been good, good; I’m happy,’’ Marrone said of Bortles after the Jags workout Monday. “I’ve seen him build upon his last performance. I don’t know what the right word is but the footwork is better, it’s more relaxed.
“And I’m hoping to see that carry over because he’s actually done quite well. I mean, you watch him and … I think he’s doing a nice job, I really do. For me personally, this is the best I’ve seen him.’’
Whoa. The best he’s seen him? That’s high praise indeed. After all, Marrone has been around Bortles since 2015, so obviously he’s seen a lot of him. And if what he’s seeing now is the best, well then, there may still be hope for this guy.
Again, it’s earl. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves here just yet. We’re talking about a couple of good days of practice for a guy who has struggled for three years to put together a couple of good games.
But any step forward with Bortles is a big a step forward, and something that has to be kept in mind here is that Bortles should not have to fight his way back all on his own, because he alone did not create the mess he’s now in.
Yes, Bortles has regressed, both mechanically as a passer and mentally and as a decision maker. No one disputes that. But what so few want to admit is that Bortles’ regression is the result at least in some part, and perhaps a large part, on the players around him.
Or maybe we should say in front of him. After all, Bortles, who was sacked more often than any other quarterback in the league his first two years in the league, has been under siege since the day he first stepped in under center for the Jaguars.
And when a quarterback is under siege, two things suffer. The first is his mechanics. When a quarterback is forced to hurry his throws, the mechanics of his throws – the footwork, the arm angle, the delievery of the ball itself, all unravel.
The second thing that suffers is his decision-making. Most quarterbacks are geared to try to make a play no matter the situation, not to quit on the play, but when a quarterback tries to make a play under siege he more often than not makes a bad decision and therefore a bad play.
So, what’s the solution? Well, the easy one is to give up on the quarterback, make a change and move on. The Jaguars have obviously contemplated that choice but opted against sticking with it at least for now. Good for them.
Because the other option, the more difficult one by far, is to stick with the quarterback you once believed so much in and have your coaches do what they’re paid to do, which is coach the bad habits out of him and coach some good ones back into him.
Yes, it’s a radical idea all right, this thought of coaches actually coaching and teaching players, working to make them better, but in this case it’s the best solution, because as much as some may believe the mess of a quarterback that Bortles has become is all Bortles fault, it’s not.