In 2017 Blake Bortles had his best season yet as a pro. Yet, he still faced heavy criticism for much of the season. Will he silence his critics in 2018? That answer remains to be seen, but if Bortles is able to accomplish what I expect from him in 2018 then he'll be well on his way to quieting the noise.
Here's three reasonable expectations for Blake that should help improve his perception around the league.
1. Improved Completion %
In Blake Bortles first season in Nathaniel Hackett's offense he improved his completion percentage from 58.9% in 2016 to 60.2% in 2017. With more command of the offense as he enters his second full season in the same scheme - an opportunity Bortles hadn't been afforded since being drafted by the Jaguars in 2014 - and a receiving corp that looks more explosive than ever, a one to two percent improvement in his completion percentage should be expected. Heck, even if his receivers just put a few less balls on the ground than they did last year then his completion percentage will improve. Marqise Lee led the NFL in drops last season. Keelan Cole struggled early on to catch the easy ones and Marcedes Lewis also contributed his fair share of drops. Add in the fact that there's virtually no way that the Jaguars WR position is as depleted in 2018 as it was in 2017 and there's plenty of reason to believe Bortles completion percentage should be improved.
2. Fewer Interceptions
Blake Bortles has reduced his interception in each of the previous two seasons. In 2015 he tossed 18 to the wrong team, in 2016 he threw two less interception, and in 2017 he threw 13. But for a two game stretch at the end of the 2017 regular season in which he threw five interceptions - when the Jaguars had already clinched a playoff spot - Bortles would have thrown just eight INTs last season. A marked improvement compared to seasons past. Again, with more consistent receiver play, and a better grasp of the offense, there's no reason to believe that Bortles can't get his INT count down around 10.
3. More Consistency from Game to Game
In 2017, and in the previous three seasons, Blake Bortles had games where he looked completely incompetent for most of, if not the entire, game. In the 2017 regular season he - along with the rest of the offense - looked inept against the Jets, Chargers, and Titans (week 17). And before having this truly impressive run against the Steelers and Patriots in the playoffs Bortles had a stinker against the Bills in which he completed just 12 passes for 87 yards. With his improved weapons, better grasp of the offense, uptick in confidence, and what should be an improved O-line and running game, Bortles should play with more consistency from week to week. Every QB has a bad day or two throughout a given season, but Bortles should look more like the guy who was the hottest QB in the NFL for the first three weeks of December, than the guy who seemingly couldn't do anything right at times last season.
Do you think these are reasonable expectations for Bortles in 2018?
Let us know in the comments below!
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