BLAKE BORTLES DESERVES CREDIT FOR Hot STREAK HEADING INTO WEEK 10 MATCHUP with GUS BRADLEY, CHARGERS
The Jaguars defense has been terrific over the past two games, allowing 7 total points allowed between the two contests. The running game, despite missing superstar running back Leonard Fournette, has thrived during the Jaguars first win streak of the season, posting totals of 188 rushing yards against the Colts and 149 rushing yards against the Bengals. Even the special teams, that were disastrous in week six against the Rams, have played their role in the Jaguars win streak.
Every facet of the team has been clicking - including the passing game.
Bortles hasn't been perfect over the last two weeks, but he has played at, perhaps, the highest level of his career. In the Jaguars last two contest Bortles has averaged 295 yards passing, has thrown two TD passes, and thrown zero interceptions. Against the Colts he posted a QBR of 95.8, and against the Bengals a QBR of 85.5 - two very impressive ball games by the Jaguars QB.
Most impressive about his two performances against the Colts and Bengals is his efficiency on third down. There has been a stark difference on third downs for Bortles lately. Against the Bengals on Sunday Bortles completed 12 of 15 passes on third down, 11 of which went for first downs. In total over the past two weeks he has completed 82% of his passes on third down. His newly found success on third down has led the Jaguars to convert on 20 of their last 32 third down attempts.
He's been helped by his receivers, who have stepped up in a major way over the last two games. A receiving group that has looked, at times, incompetent in 2017 is starting find it's stride. Marqise Lee has hauled in 12 catches over the past two contests, while Allen Hurns has chipped in eight catches, and Marcedes Lewis and Keelan Cole have both added 5 a piece. A once dismal passing game appears to be, at the very least, functional.
For the Jaguars to continue to perform at such a high level Bortles and the passing game will need to continue their impressive play. These guys haven't been perfect during the Jaguars current win streak, but they've been very, very good. Has Blake Bortles missed some throws? Yes. Have the receivers dropped some passes? Yes. But as a whole this Jaguars passing attack looks completely different than what we saw in losses to the Jets, Rams, and Titans.
It's too early to start talking about Bortles' status as the Jaguars QB heading into 2018, but if he continues to play like he has over the past few weeks, it's not hard to imagine a scenario where Bortles is retained by the Jaguars in 2018. Moving on . . .
The Jaguars newly hot passing attack faces the Chargers in week 10. The Jaguars second straight home game will see the team face their former head coach Gus Bradley, who is now calling the defensive plays for the Chargers. The same man who led the Jaguars to a 14-48 record over a nearly four year period. He comes to town with a high powered pass rush led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. But Bortles could be in line for another nice day. The Jaguars offensive line has done a nice job minimizing some of the better pass rushes in football to this point and despite having a nasty pass rush the Chargers are not great agains the pass. They're allowing a completion percentage of 66 to opposing passers - the sixth worst mark in the NFL. They've also struggled to get their hands on passes - the Chargers have only five interceptions in 2017, thanks in large part to the loss of standout CB Jason Verrett for the season.
Bortles and the Jaguars will have a chance to continue their hot streak and to take down their old head coach in the process. The Jaguars haven't won two games in a row at home since 2010 - they'll look to do just that this Sunday against the Chargers.