Blake Bortles likely started his final regular season game for the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of last season, as a combination of continued struggles and an economic decision based on an injury-only guarantee conspire against him.
Two years ago, it appeared that Bortles had a breakout season, but the raw stats were better than they seemed. When I did a similarity analysis of Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, and Teddy Bridgewater before the 2016 season, the results said that Carr was likely to be a star and Bortles far less likely to develop. (Remember, this was before inputting last season’s diverging paths).
Last season was a disaster. His play was worse than the disappointing final numbers, because he was dreadful during the first half of games and often padded stats late in blowouts.
I was stunned when Jacksonville exercised the fifth-year option–and that they brought no competition in to push him–since the rest of the roster feels like it’s ready to make a leap and Bortles is holding back the offense. In May, I wrote they were the best fit for Colin Kaepernick on the field, as a guy who could bridge and start if Bortles floundered under pressure.
Bortles has been, by most accounts, bad again throughout camp. He threw 5 interceptions in a practice session, which drew attention. Yes, it’s practice, but when you are looking for redemption, not good. And there have been plenty of examples of teammates showing their frustration. This one from Allen Robinson this week definitely rates as the funniest (warning: NFSW language).
In light of Doug Marrone’s equivocation about Bortles still being the starter after Thursday’s preseason debacle against Tampa Bay, the fifth-year option will likely be the hammer to go along with all his errant nails.
We saw Washington go to Kirk Cousins entering year 4, after exercising Robert Griffin’s injury-only option. They put RG3 on a shelf after a preseason concussion, never to play for the organization again. Last year, Colin Kaepernick had an injury-only guarantee for the 2017 season, and the team initially went with Blaine Gabbert, and only inserted Kaepernick after he restructured the deal to eliminate those guarantees.
Bortles has been bad, and they don’t want to be paying him $18 million in 2018 if he goes out in early October and tears his ACL. So that fifth-year option probably now means the practical end for Bortles, if Chad Henne (who I now expect to start the third preseason game) can show competently.