For much of his NFL career, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has been the butt of jokes. Sub-60 percent completion percentages, a QB rating bouncing between 69 and 88, and plenty of turnovers have had people wondering if he would even get to his fifth year option in 2018.
And yet, in recent weeks, the third overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft is looking like a guy with which the Jaguars can win a Super Bowl. Jacksonville is playing historically good defense, but in the month of December he is putting up player of the month level stats.
In three December games, Bortles has completed 71.4 percent of his passes, for 903 yards, with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. That has resulted in a QB rating of 128.6. With a run game led by Leonard Fournette and their historic defense, the Jaguars are looking like a team that could give a lot of teams trouble in January.
I sat down with Big Cat Country site manager Ryan Day to get his thoughts on Bortles. While Leonard Fournette has been the engine much of the season, Bortles is a huge storyline for them. I asked Ryan what Jags fans see in Bortles, and if he is doing enough to help them win a Super Bowl. It’s safe to say Jaguars fans are really pumped up.
We don't need monster numbers from Bortles to win. We don't even need above average numbers. We need third down conversions and the ability to be good enough to keep a defense from running out eight or nine guys in the box. That's it. Seriously. Look at the Los Angeles Rams game -- Bortles was so ineffective that game, especially on third downs. We were just 4-for-15 on the day and that's not going to be good enough, especially when you consider that special teams had a handful of meltdowns that week alone.
But looking at where he is now (which is the only important observation) I can tell you this is a quarterback who can win a Super Bowl. It's an added bonus that the defense is historically good. Bortles is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league with rookie wide receivers in the top three slots of the depth chart. Dede Westbrook is a fourth-round pick, sure, but Keelan Cole was an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky Wesleyan and Jaydon Mickens bounced around the Oakland Raiders practice squad before finding a spot here. And here's what's absolutely insane -- Bortles is making them look like starters. All three of them have had big plays over the last few weeks with Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee missing time.
If Blake can continue to cook then defenses will have to start playing honest -- and that means Leonard Fournette and this run game is going to devour run defenses. And if defenses continue to key in on our run game, Blake will just have to continue with his 300-yard, three-touchdown performances.
If you can't tell, I'm the happiest about this team I've been in a long, long time.