Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles doesn’t have much to work with right now. His two best receivers, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, are hurt; his third-best receiver, Marqise Lee, is having trouble holding on to the ball; and his running game is no longer churning out big yards the way it was earlier in the year.
That’s what makes Bortles’ performance Sunday in the Jaguars 30-10 victory over the Colts so impressive.
Because the Jaguars run game was all but shut down again, Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory combining for 69 yards on 24 carries (2.9 per carry), it was left to Bortles to bail out the offense and Bortles came through, completing 26-of-35 passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 119.8 passer rating.
“The difference was, the quarterback had an excellent game today,’’ Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said of the victory. “He really played well. I thought he put the ball in some good spots today, where (the receivers) were able to catch it. I think it’s definitely something to build on, that we can just keep going with.’’
Though he hardly fits the description, Bortles looked every bit the part of the confident, savvy veteran on Sunday. He displayed poise in the pocket, distributed the ball liberally, connecting with eight different targets, and made sound decisions all throughout the game. He also showed a deft touch with the ball.
Bortles has struggled throughout his career to hit receivers running fade routes, but he even hit on a couple of those on Sunday, including one to Keelan Cole and another that he threw to tight end Marcedes Lewis to complete a 2-point conversion.
“He’s been doing a really good job in practice with those balls,’’ Marrone said of the fades. “He’s put a lot of work into it and I feel really good with him being able to throw those balls and go over the top for us.’’
Marrone has reason to feel good about Bortles ability to put the Jaguars over the top, too. No one can deny that Bortles still has a long way to go to become the quarterback the Jaguars need him to be, but he’s proved a couple of times this year that he can make a team pay for stacking the box and forcing the game onto his shoulders, and Sunday was one of those.
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