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Blake Bortles – Instant Reaction

There was a mixed reaction last Saturday when the news broke of Blake Bortles signing a contract extension to stay in Jacksonville through the 2020 season. Most dynasty owners including myself had Bortles being cut by the Jaguars even while they led the AFC South for much of the season. Bortles was held up by a dominant opportunistic defense and super strong running game all season. I’m guilty of being a Bortle’s basher and I was honestly surprised by this extension but after hearing the numbers and realizing the team situation of the Jaguars this made more sense to me. I put together a few thoughts on this move from a dynasty perspective as well as adding in the future of the Jaguars offense under Bortles. 

 

First, we look into the numbers and the continuing eye-popping money NFL quarterbacks continue to receive. The new deal between Bortles and Jacksonville is for three years, $54 million with $26.5 million guaranteed also laced with incentives that can boost this deal to $66.5 million. Now, this should put Bortles around $22 million annually which as an outside football fan you shake your head but forget that the Jags QB was slated to collect over $19 million this season. I would like to think the rest of the NFL has learned from the debacle that has gone on between the Washington Redskins and Kirk Cousins the past two years and refused to put themselves in that same situation. Now you won’t get much of an argument from me I don’t believe Bortles is worth this big payday but we also have to look at the QB market in a league. The facts are that average to below average starters are paid highly as every NFL team is trying to find consistency at the quarterback position. According to overthecap.com the list of NFL quarterbacks making at least $22M annually range from Russell Wilson to the most recently signed Jimmy Garoppolo. On this list, there are four Super Bowl winning QBs but at the same time, there are four guys who have never won a playoff game. Quarterback is no doubt the hardest position to replace in the NFL and also the easiest position to criticize as a fan or dynasty owner. I’ll admit as a fan when you hear these huge numbers being handed out to quarterbacks that aren’t consistent or impressive from a winning or stats point of view its head scratching, to say the least but like anything else in life we have to understand the market and business end of things.

 

I wasn’t going to include this in my write up because it truly feels gross caping for Blake Bortles especially if you read through my tweets over the past year or two and how many times I have called Bortles “trash” or “overrated” but I have to be fair here. I always give credit where it’s due and this goes to @guga31bb on twitter who brought this up Saturday night. Ben really hurt some feelings in Raider Nation with this tweet and even if it was a trolling attempt it has some substance to it and I wouldn’t be doing my reader’s justice by at least not bringing it up. To my knowledge, there wasn’t nearly as big of a mixed reaction a year ago when Derek Carr signed his big contract earning him over $25 million a year and maybe for good reason as he was an MVP candidate before getting hurt before the 2016 playoffs. Ben brought up the point of Bortles having 238 more passing yards than Carr on 18 fewer attempts which is a whatever stat in my opinion but the closer you look at the numbers from the QBs from this 2014 class it’s closer than I ever thought. Derek Carr is pretty Teflon in the dynasty community compared to Blake Bortles and I am guilty of this as well I see the true upside of Carr vs that of Bortles and this can be seen as a case of stats vs eye test for a dynasty owner. We would be fooling ourselves by not at least considering Ben’ take here though which is the QBs are much closer from a numbers standpoint than the dynasty community puts them currently. While Bortles TD: INT ratio and QB rating are much worse than that of Carr you can also point out that Bortles has the two playoff wins and AFC championship game appearance. Regardless of how you feel between the two, it’s an interesting talking point that we are fine with Carr getting a contract worthy of being top three in the entire NFL but are laughing at the Jags giving Bortles a contract significantly cheaper when the stats and wins aren’t as far off as we might think.

 

 

Alright, enough of the money and contract talk it’s time to dive into Bortle’s stats. It seems like a lifetime ago that Bortles threw for 4,400 yards and tossed 35 touchdowns and while most of the football world and dynasty community were aware at the time the amount of “garbage time” yards and touchdowns were alarmingly high and not sustainable. It turns out we were right as the Jaguars gained stability at the coaching position with Doug Marrone the team has improved greatly winning both the AFC South and advancing to the AFC Championship game last year. Bortle’s touchdowns have regressed greatly over the past two season working with Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett who in their days together in Buffalo have emphasized the willingness to run the football at all costs. In these past two seasons with Hackett, the Jaguars QB has thrown for over 3,600 yards while posting his two lowest INT numbers of his career while also tossing at least 21 touchdowns in both seasons. Bortle’s consistency has been the biggest issue for most dynasty owners and when you look at the numbers it tells a fairly different story in three of his four seasons in the NFL he has thrown for over 3,500 yards and 20+ touchdowns while also rushing for 300 yards in all four years of his young career. Through the life of his rookie contract, Bortles has over 16,000 total yards and 100 total touchdowns with nearly 15,000/90 of those coming in the passing game. We have seen Bortles getting better as a football player under Hackett and the run first Jags offensive philosophy posting his highest career completion percentage in 2017 while leading his team one drive short of a Super Bowl appearance. Also keep in mind Bortles only turning 26 in April with the confidence in his team now behind him he can play slightly more free and open next year.

 

I try not to be the worst and bash players too much but I have openly stated how bad Bortles has been in my eyes since his breakout year where he tossed 35 touchdowns. I’ll admit the thing that aggravated me the most about Bortles which was no fault of his own was pre-draft he was considered the next Ben Roethlisberger and after his 4,000 yards and 35 touchdown sophomore campaign was compared to Dan Marino and that is when I completely lost it as I am a huge Marino fan. In that 2015 season which the Jaguars went 5-12, in games that Bortles threw for 3 touchdowns or more the Jags went 1-4 and that season he tossed 29 of his 35 touchdowns while behind. The emergence of Allen Robinson was a huge factor in Bortle’s development catching 15 of his 35 touchdowns in 2015. Since those 35 passing touchdowns in 2015 Bortles has a total of 44 passing touchdowns in his last 32 games, not exactly the true consistency you are looking for in your starting dynasty QB. One of the biggest issues Bortles continues to fight is his turnovers if you count his total fumbles, not just those that were lost he has 102 total turnovers in his four-year career including many multiple interception games. Bortles can get away with this more these days with the championship level defense the Jaguars have but it’s still alarming for an NFL starting QB to have tendencies to turn the ball over this much and it’s truly frustrating as a dynasty owner to have a QB capable of costing you a full point touchdown in your league just off his amount of turnovers he commits. I’m sure we can all recall the Bills/Jaguars Wild Card playoff game where CBS analyst and former Cowboys QB Tony Romo nearly lost it on Bortles for his inability to complete passes against the Bills defense through nearly three-quarters of a home playoff game. It’s more likely than not Bortles will frustrate fantasy owners and NFL fans for years to come with his inconsistency. Now to his credit Bortles in this past season might be becoming a better actual NFL quarterback and moving away from being relied on as a fantasy producer which is the way he has been treated in the dynasty community even in Superflex formats. It’s fair to say that Bortles played the entire season even going into the playoffs with a black cloud over him while missing his number one WR Allen Robinson he has a real chance to improve his passing numbers and become a true value in dynasty leagues again in 2018.

So now that Bortles is signed through the 2020 season what does this say for the future of the Jaguars offense in the dynasty community. I have heard rumblings of people not ruling out the Jags still adding a QB in this deep class I don’t think that’s the case given the state of the team and I truly believe the Bortles extension was made to keep the core of the team together. Can they still draft a QB? Of course, I just think it’s more on a developmental pick than a guy they think can unseat Bortles as the starter.

●     Running Backs

 The Jaguars selected Leonard Fournette in last years NFL draft and it paid off huge in his rookie year. Fournette added stability to the Jaguars backfield and helped pace the offense rushing for 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns all while missing three games in 2017. Last week Ivory was cut after being scratched in the three playoff games for the Jaguars as T.J Yeldon and Corey Grant stepped up while Fournette wasn’t on the field late in the season. Fournette is one of the true workhorse backs in dynasty and a combination of Yeldon and Grant are decent deep stashes on rosters assuming Fournette misses a few games a year with his nagging ankle that has bothered him since college. Grant is a factor on special teams and in the return game I imagine the Jags could take a flier on a late round rookie RB for insurance purposes as Yeldon has underwhelmed for much of his young career but make no mistakes as long as Fournette is in town he will be the guy and he’s a beast!

●     Wide Receivers

 Actually the deepest position the Jaguars have honestly even though they will let Marqise Lee leave in free agency they get back Allen Robinson from a torn ACL in 2017. The Jags drafted explosive speed demon, Dede Westbrook, last year while Keelan Cole also broke out under WR coach Keenan McCardell. Allen Hurns returns as a solid possession WR and as long as the Jaguars franchise tag Robinson which most believe will happen the WR core is very solid. Allen Robinson averaged over 900 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first three seasons while connecting with Bortles as they both broke out in 2015 catching 15 touchdowns. Robinson is a high end WR2 in dynasty with WR1 upside assuming he is at full health to start 2018 he can have a monster year while playing for his next contract whether that’s in Jacksonville or somewhere else. The combination of Hurns, Westbrook, and Cole gives the Jags dynasty outlook some hope if Bortles is free to open up the passing game more in 2018 while teams continue to stack the box on Fournette.

●     Tight Ends

 Nothing to write home about here the TE position has been missing for years in the Jaguars offense. Marcedes Lewis has been the mainstay for years and he offers little to no upside other than stealing touchdowns from our favorite dynasty players. Lewis becomes a free agent in 2019 and with the amount of young upside TEs entering the league in the last two drafts it’s likely the Jags use a draft pick to add that dynamic to their offense. Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, and Mike Giesecke are three dynamic TEs that will be available in this year’s draft I don’t know if the Jags will be in the position to acquire one but if they do it could make the dynasty outlook for the Jags TEs exciting for the first time in what seems like forever.

I know you’re thinking who writes over 2,000 words on the Jacksonville Jaguars in February but I love these instant reaction pieces to help the dynasty community decide what to do as we dive deeper into the offseason. This seemed necessary as everyone all but guaranteed Bortles wouldn’t be a Jaguar in 2018 especially with the depth and availability of this year’s rookie QBs and free agent QBs. The combine is less than a week away and the more information and stability we have going into the rookie draft the easier it will be to scout the rookies and make a much more educated guess on landing spots to help with trades before the 2018 season. Hope you guys enjoyed this piece and as always hit me up on twitter to talk dynasty. The rookie season is in full swing let’s keep building those dynasty powerhouses.

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About JonGlosser

Buffalo N.Y native, Die hard Syracuse basketball fan. Fell in love with football at a young age and can't keep my opinions to myself, so I decided to write about them. Enjoy