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Bortles proves once again he can carry Jaguars if he has to

Roy Cummings



Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

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.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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