Do you find yourself needing some sports to take your mind off of sports for a while? Well here’s something: The Jacksonville Jaguars might be good.
Hard to believe, I know. But look at it. The Jags have:
- Beaten a team by 37 points
- Won two out of three games
- Averaged 30 points per game
In the NFL, that’s pretty good, no matter who you’ve played. The Jags are 13th in total offense, third in total defense, they’re averaging 5.3 yards per play, and quarterback Blake Bortles is completing 60 percent of his passes with six touchdowns against two interceptions, and a 93.8 rating.
It all looks pretty good.
On the other hand, Jacksonville’s 2-1 start has come under unusual circumstances. This week’s 44-7 win took place in England against a Baltimore Ravens team that still seemed somewhere over the Atlantic. And the Week 1 win over Houston came while that city was still under water from Hurricane Harvey. Plus, Houston started Tom Savage at quarterback, and he didn’t make it past halftime.
Bill Parcells was basically right when he said, “You are what your record says you are.” And it should be noted that the Jags didn’t just beat Houston and Baltimore, they picked little bits of those teams out of their cleats at the end of the day.
So yes, yes, much credit to the Jacksonville team.
But, oh, what of this game in Week 2? This 37-16 loss to the … Tennessee Titans?
The Bortles kid turned it over three times, did he?
Well, this needs taken into consideration, then. Because whether or not the Jacksonville Jaguars are “good” is wholly dependent on the competence of Bortles, who has had what a coach might describe as an “up and down” career.
If it turns out that, whoa, Blake Bortles is good now, the Jags will have crossed the Bad Team Rubicon, and success is assured.
But it’s still unclear whether or not that is the case. Bortles is 24th in the league in passing yards this year. With the best passer rating of his career, he’s 16th in that category. Last year, Bortles threw for 3,900 yards, 23 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, and eight fumbles (six lost). He was even more prolific in 2015, when he threw for 4,428 yards, 35 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, and fumbled 14 times, losing five.
The numbers reinforce what you see on the field, which is that Bortles has the necessary skills to succeed as an NFL quarterback, but has not been able to stop turning over the ball. This seems to have held true whether the Jags were giving up 51 sacks as they did in 2015, or 34 as they did last year.
So you look at the big picture, and things look pretty good for the Jags. But there are questions about the running game. And then you look at Bortles, and you look at that three-turnover game against the Titans, and it’s staring back at you like the sell-by date on a steak you found in the clearance section.
Should I? Can I go there? Is this the sort of person I am?
Am I out in public telling people the Jacksonville Jaguars are good?
It turns out I am.