Since the NFL draft in May, Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley have made it clear that they plan to sit No. 3 overall pick QB Blake Bortles for the entire season and let him pick up a year of experience behind starting QB Chad Henne. On one hand it makes sense if you look back at what happened to former QB and 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft – Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert who was thrown into the starting position during his rookie season, struggled tremendously. Throughout the season he was sacked 40 times, fumbled the ball 14 times and had a league second-worst completion percentage of 50.8%. Football Outsiders even calculated that Gabbert’s 2011 season was “with the fifth worst season we’ve ever measured” in aggregate value.
So to draft a rookie QB, and allow him to learn behind a veteran signal caller already on the roster – for his first year – actually makes a fair amount of sense. However, even though it’s only been a couple preseason games, Bortles has looked every bit as impressive as you would expect from a QB taken in the top 3 of his draft class. His ability to roll out to both sides and his poise in the pocket have been very Pro Bowl-esque. He certainly has out-played Chad Henne who is average at best, and Bortles is clearly the better of the two QB’s. So should they stick to their plan of benching Bortles for the season and allowing him to continue to develop, even though he is clearly the most favorable option on the board? Drawing comparisons to other QB’s around the league such as Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Bortles stands at 6’5” and can operate within the pocket with ease.
It seems though, that Caldwell and Bradley (for now) are sticking with their plan. When asked if Bortles would get first team reps during the season, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said, “Yeah. During the team period, I could see it. If there are ten plays, maybe he’ll get a couple plays. He’s also going to get all of the service team reps as well. I shouldn’t say all of the service team reps. There may be a period where he goes over and works on some individual.”
Does that mean that we may be done seeing Bortles on the field after this week’s preseason game (barring any injuries)? Absolutely. Coach Bradley acknowledged Tuesday that it is possible Bortles won’t see the field after the preseason finale against the Falcons until next season. With the way that Bortles has flashed his ability and football IQ on the field, I don’t think there is any cause for concern with him being the designated clipboard holder for his first season, but he sure brings a lot of excitement for the fans and the Jaguars organization as a whole, and with that excitement, hope.