If the Jaguars are to sustain what they did in 2017, there are a couple of keys: strong defense, and power running featuring Leonard Fournette. However, the one variable, arguably the most important one for the upcoming season, is quarterback play.
And that’s where the concern over Blake Bortles is causing some to already foresee disappointment in North Florida this upcoming season.
Now, the Jags already made their short term decision on the former first round pick shortly after being eliminated in the AFC Championship Game by the Patriots giving Bortles an extension. Still, as we wrote, that deal is heavily front loaded for 2018, and if the Jags want to move on, it won’t be that costly in the future.
And Jacksonville rewarding Bortles hasn’t convinced some from being outspoken, that when “push comes to shove” later in the year, the fifth year QB will be their undoing.
As John Reid wrote in the Florida Times-Union this weekend. Vegas doesn’t have the “warm and fuzzies” for what Bortles can do this year.
ICYMI: Vegas oddsmakers make predictions on Jags' over/under projected win total https://t.co/DCfEy8sZpC
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) July 8, 2018
Reid talked to oddsmakers from Las Vegas and prominent on line betting sites, and one in particular went right to Bortles, what will likely hold Jacksonville back:
″The Jaguars don’t put up a lot of big points,″ said Pat Morrow, the head oddsmaker for BovadaLV. ″They struggled a lot with passing the ball last year. Bortles was very inconsistent. ″I think for teams that have a good breakout season like that the NFL can be very humbling as well. They will usually punish them with a couple of tougher games if you’re team with that kind of success.″
And another dour opinion Bortles helping the Jags excel came from Jon Avello of Wynn Sports Book in Las Vegas:
″It’s always a competitive division. At one time, it was the Colts and then everybody else. And now it’s everybody else and then the Colts. I’m not a big Bortles fan, but whatever needs to be done he’ll do with his legs to win a football game. They’re so good in other spots that if they don’t make any other mistakes they’ll be OK.″
And this item from USAToday.com last month also calls into question whether Bortles has the skills and ability to help Jacksonville sustain or go further than last year.
The quarterback in any NFL market is the most scrutinized and criticized position. And, fans and observers of the Jags will be no different.
Sure, Jacksonville is expected to win some games, in spite of Bortles not giving them much. Heck, they won their home playoff game in January with the Bills with him dismally unable throw the ball.
Yet, the present day NFL almost makes it mandatory that your quarterback have the ability to carry you in certain situations and the biggest games.
And Bortles has yet to do that.
So, it’s not unfair that some believe he won’t this, or any other year.
Still, VP of Football Tom Coughlin, head coach Doug Marrone and most importantly, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett not only believed in Bortles last year (when they could’ve dropped him), and they were proven right.
Will they still be standing behind him as this season unfolds and concludes?
That’s a whole different story.
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