Blake Bortles has had an up down road in his career thus far. He looked like a complete bust in his first year, then came back and threw for 35 TDs the next year. When it looked like he was ready to take a big step in 2016, he completely fell off the stairs. His form was bad just to start with. It seemed like he couldn't throw over 30 yards down field. His pre snap reads were off, inaccurate, he displayed poor mechanics, Had no success on 3rd down, relied on his feet towards the end of the year when he found out he couldn't throw well, and was just blatantly slinging ducks. With all that said let's take a look at 3 arguments why Bortles should improve in 2017.
1: Improved throwing mechanics + footwork
It's too early to tell if the “improved throwing motion” will work for the entirety of 2017. However, hype has been growing with those 3DQB videos along with the Jaguars twitter videos. Until the motion looks good with the pads and playing full contact, then I'm not convinced. But there's no question that his form has gotten better. It's a more polished look to say the least. His dropback seems to also be improved. The release of the ball matters the most and he seemed to fix it up with the help of 3DQB, who've trained QBs in the past like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton.
If this continues into the regular season, we could see major improvement in his development as the Jaguars “franchise QB”. His motion, combined with cleaner drop backs and footwork can lead to progression on the deep throws and more accurate shorter throws as well. Bortles claimed that he played the season with a separated shoulder and wrist tendonitis which could've been the reason why he couldn't sling the rock far enough. Torn shoulder or no torn shoulder, Bortles will have no excuses this coming season.
2: Improved Offense
It seemed like in the 2016 off season the Jags were set on offense and just had to build the defense from there on. But now it seems like the offense is the department that needs work, but does it really? They still have names like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who had down years in 2016. The Jaguars needed a burner who could stretch the field and be a reliable deep threat, so they went out and drafted Dede Westbrook in the 4th round. Although pass blocking wasn't giving up as much pressure last year, that group of offensive lineman was atrocious in the run game. So they went and traded free agent bust Julius Thomas and added the former Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert (who's still holding out). They also drafted a player who some theorized was the best offensive lineman in the entire draft, Cam Robinson. Marqise Lee had a much needed breakout season in 2016, which adds to the already stacked WR corp. Tight end is still a question right now, but they'll hope to get it solved before week 1.
But the biggest acquisition on the offensive side of the ball was Leonard Fournette. The 4th overall pick is expected to make a major contribution, help the running game, and to give the identity that this offense badly needs. A strong back that can run over you, around you, and past you. You pair him with Chris Ivory and you have a versatile offense that completely supports the quarterback. Fournette can gain the yardage on 1st and 2nd down to make 3rd down easier for Blake. It also gets the defense on their heels which makes the situation easier for a play action. Blake can easily excel this offense and return to 2015 form if all goes according to plan. But remember, the Jags did have the hyped Combo of Ivory and Yeldon last year. The duo didn't pan out and combined for under 1000 yards rushing. Though some of that had to do with the injuries and coaching which brings me to my 3rd and final point on why Bortles will improve.
3: Gus Bradley isn't the coach anymore
Rejoice Jags fans, the bus has ran out of gas once and for all. No more being apart of his horrendous record of 14-48. The running game was just terrible to start off with. He never had a running back that rushed for over 1000 yards, they ran questionable plays based on personnel and situations that included running draws or runs up the middle most of the time, and never knew when to pull the play action. The Jags offense was ranked worst in time of possession in 2016 thanks to the poor running game, passing game, and awful play calling. But when Doug Marrone and his sunglasses took over for the last two games, the offense finally looked like the unit that we expected. Moving down the field with ease, converting 3rd down, improvement in the running game, and last but not least, Bortles looked like a stud. Bortles threw for 600 yards, 3 TDs and no interceptions. That earned him a 100 passer rating, which he hadn't seen for some time time. Was this offense being held back by Gus? That question will be answered in 2017.
Mixing up all of these ingredients should make Bortles a better player in 2017. Fournette, Ivory, Robinson, Hurns, Lee, Westbrook, Williams and an improved line looks great on paper. A good mini point to help bortles is the defense. That team on the other side looks and should be able to get bortles’ best side during training camp. The defense will also take pressure off Blake when they get teams off at the field early to give the offense more time. We all (Jaguars fans) want to see Blake succeed. Do you know how bad it feels to have a jersey laying around of a bust or of player that didn't succeed. I'm sure half of the people that come to EverBank field have a #5 laying around in the closet. There is reason to believe that the Bortles jerseys can return from their exile in the back of the closet or the bottom of the drawer, but only time will tell if the improved throwing mechanics, the revamped offense and defensive units, and the departure of Gus Bradley will make a difference for this young gun slinger.
Plus, no one wants to quit wearing these beauties:
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