Can Blake Bortles Lead the Jaguars to the NFL’s Promised Land?
Jacksonville hopes the 25-year-old quarterback will break through in his fifth pro season.
Entering his fifth NFL season, there is perhaps no quarterback under more pressure to deliver the goods than Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After advancing to the AFC Championship game last season and losing, the Jaguars had the chance to part ways with Bortles and go after a more established player. Instead, the team gave the 25-year-old a three-year, $54 million contract extension containing $26.5 million guaranteed.
Now that he’s gotten his money, it’s make-or-break time for Bortles to prove the Jaguars right for investing in him for the long haul. The good news is, there’s some evidence he can live up to the team’s great expectations.
Jacksonville offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett saw Bortles make noticeable improvements last season and is confident the quarterback will continue to progress. Instead of going for the big play every time, Bortles has gotten better at risk assessment and taking what the defense gives him, instead of forcing the ball in dangerous situations that are rarely worth the reward.
“He’s learning, we want this play for this specific look,” Hackett said. “That’s where you want to be. You look at the defense and the play call, and if we can’t get it, go to something else. That takes time and comfort in a system. Now it’s going to allow us to be a lot more aggressive, because you can trust that Blake is going to make right decision more consistently.”
Considering Bortles completed more than 60 percent of his passes for the first time in his career last season, perhaps that trust is finally ready to pay off in a big way.
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