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Jacksonville Jaguars

Of late at least, Jaguars Bortles has been best under pressure

Roy Cummings

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Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

The Jaguars have all but admitted they don’t know which Blake Bortles they’re going to get from week to week. It’s hard to know which Blake Bortles they’re going to get from play to play sometimes, too.

Take Bortles play in last week’s 27-17 loss to the Rams, for example. For the most part, the Jaguars got the efficient Bortles they hope for as he completed 23 of 35 passes for 241 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

What was odd about that performance was that Bortles was far better under pressure, which he faced a lot, than he was when he was allowed to stand up and survey the field from inside a clean pocket.

It’s usually the other way around, of course, but when Bortles was given adequate time to look downfield and find a target he produced a passer rating of just 63.6, according to Pro Football Focus.

That was the sixth-worst mark in the league in that situation last week and that has to be a source of frustration for the Jaguars, who are still trying to determine whether Bortles is worth keeping long term or not.

A number like that is the kind that would lead a team to believe it’s probably best to move on, but it’s not quite that simple with Bortles and here’s part of the reason why.

As inconsistent as Bortles tends to be, even in the most optimum of circumstances, he seems to be developing a habit of being at his best when he finds himself in the least optimum of circumstances.

That at least has been the case the past two weeks, when Bortles has been among the league’s best and most productive quarterbacks when he’s been under heavy pressure.

Against Pittsburgh, for example, Bortles performed extremely well under pressure, completing 5-of-6 passes for 59 yards and producing a 107.6 passer rating that was fifth-best in the league, per PFF.

It was more of the same for Bortles this past week against the Rams, who pressured Bortles on 47.7-percent of his drop backs but watched almost helplessly as he completed nine of 15 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown in those situations.

That worked out to a 105.1 passer rating that was the third highest in the league for a quarterback under pressure, which makes you wonder if all those years of playing under so much pressure isn’t starting to pay off.

Let’s face it, a big part of Bortles’ problems stem from the fact that as a result of being under pressure so much, his mechanics have deteriorated to a point where they’re barely NFL starting-caliber anymore.

The Jaguars are working hard to refine those mechanics and they may get there eventually, but in the meantime, they just might have a quarterback who is actually at his best when the pressure is on.

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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