The struggles of starting quarterback Blake Bortles have been well documented this past season. Bortles has frequently struggled with his mechanics as well as regressing significantly from the 2015-16 season. Bortles ended this season with 23 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, and a completion percentage of only 58.9%. Despite much of the blame falling on Bortles’ shoulders, the fact that he has little fear of being dropped cannot be a good thing for the Jaguars. Backup quarterbacks Chad Henne and Brandon Allen simply don’t provide the competition that will force Bortles to step his game up.
The Jacksonville Jaguars Need a Better Backup Quarterback
Henne, a nine year veteran, and Allen a rookie sixth-round pick out of Arkansas, provide little or no competition for Bortles. If the Jaguars are to see the former number three overall pick rediscover his best play, they will need to find a way to keep him looking over his shoulder. With free agency and the draft looming around the corner, there are two obvious ways the Jaguars can go about doing this, with plenty of options to choose from.
The pending free agency market is filled with veteran talent at the quarterback position. Unlike Henne however, there are a number of players who have recently been starters and could help bring the best out of Bortles.
The former third-round pick has fallen out of favor in Tampa, since the Buccaneers drafted Jameis Winston in the 2015 Draft. Despite an impressive start to his career, Mike Glennon has never really been given the opportunity to prove himself. Glennon has thrown 30 career touchdowns to just 15 interceptions, a record that is vastly better than Bortles. His 6’7″ frame also gives Glennon the ability to use his vision and deliver accurate deep balls downfield. With Glennon set to hit free agency, the Jaguars should look to pick him up as a competitive backup for Bortles.
Not so much a free agency move here, as the Jaguars will have to make a trade in order to gain this backup. A.J. McCarron was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft, the same year as Bortles. Acting as an able deputy, McCarron has done a solid job filling in when necessary for the Cincinnati Bengals. McCarron proved to be a talent when filling in for an injured Andy Dalton, at the end of the 2015-16 season. In his seven featured games, McCarron recorded six touchdowns for 854 yards with only two interceptions. At the age of just 26, McCarron has potential and can easily challenge Bortles for the starting role.
An alternative route the Jags could take towards finding Bortles a solid backup would be through the draft. Although it is unlikely that Jacksonville would use an early pick on a quarterback, they could pick one up in the middle rounds.
A player who has seen his draft stock drastically fall since the start of the year, Brad Kaaya could now drop as far as the third or fourth round. Despite struggling in his junior year, Kaaya possesses all the necessary tools to make consistent and accurate passes downfield. Although his lack of mobility has been a concern for many teams, Kaaya is the type of player who could easily develop his game. With that being said, although not being an immediate threat to Bortles, he could do enough to keep him looking over his shoulder.
In 2016, Josh Dobbs completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,946 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In similar fashion to Kaaya, Dobbs also needs time to develop as a quarterback. Although he possesses great physical talent, especially in his running game, Dobbs could improve his overall passing ability. However, with the right attributes to succeed in the NFL, Dobbs could be a long-term option for the Jaguars and could step up next year if Bortles struggles again.
Backup is Key
Whichever route the Jaguars choose to take when finding a better backup quarterback, it is essential they get it done. For Bortles to make strides in his game, the Jaguars will need to remove the comfort blanket that Bortles currently has, forcing him to work for the starting job.