Blake Bortles. The name gives heartache to many Jacksonville Jaguars fans this year. A year after going to the AFC Championship game and his team is on a six-game losing streak. The offense is ineffective. The home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was evidence that the coaches don’t trust Bortles to seal a victory. Now the team goes north to face the Buffalo Bills. While the Bills are struggling themselves, they are no pushover. We can expect a strong defensive performance, but Blake Bortles will need to have a strong game to end the losing streak.
Blake Bortles Needs Strong Outing Against the Buffalo Bills
Where is The Passing Game?
The biggest concern from the Jaguars latest loss is the fact that they almost abandoned the passing game. Bortles threw for 104 yards with 10 completions on 18 attempts. He didn’t throw any touchdowns or interceptions. This was the least amount of passing Bortles has done all season. Even more perplexing is the fact that Bortles didn’t throw a single time on the team’s last offensive drive. All the Jaguars needed was a few first downs to seal a victory. But the coaches obviously didn’t trust him.
Of course, if you ask the coaching staff, they will tell you they are still confident in Bortles’ ability to lead the team.
#Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett says he believes QB Blake Bortles is playing well enough to remain the starter.
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) November 20, 2018
While this is not a ringing endorsement, it’s not surprising that they’d rather go with the more known quantity in Bortles than switching to Cody Kessler. But if the team doesn’t plan to switch the quarterback out, they need to have him throw more. It’s time for Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to step his game up, and call a better offense. If not, it should be more than Blake Bortles that needs to go.
The Offense Needs to be More Potent Than Last Year’s Playoff Matchup Versus the Buffalo Bills
In last season’s playoff victory against the Buffalo Bills, it was an ugly win. Bortles was better on his feet than with his arm. He ran for 88 yards on 10 attempts. In the passing game, Bortles was 12 of 23 with 87 yards and a touchdown.
Interestingly enough, Leonard Fournette had an embarrassing 2.7 yards per carry against the Bills last season. He ran for 57 yards on 21 attempts. In fact, while Fournette had 95 yards rushing last week against the Steelers, he was almost shut down in the second half.
To snap the six-game losing streak, the Jaguars will need Bortles and Fournette to have strong games. For Bortles that means trusting his receivers to not drop the ball. For Fournette, the banged-up line will need to open up some holes.
Frustrated by your team dropping a lot of passes?
— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) November 20, 2018
As you can see above, the Jaguars have the second highest amount of drops this season. Drops are likely why we have seen less of Keelan Cole lately. Cole had a bad fumble in London as well as multiple drops this season. DJ Chark has seen more playing time lately, but he is on the injury report this week with a leg injury. Bortles would do best to pass more to Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook. Moncrief currently leads the team in receiving yards with 33 receptions for 488 yards and three touchdowns. Westbrook is right there with 40 receptions for 484 yards and three touchdowns.
For Fournette, it could be better to have some tosses from Bortles rather than just taking the handoff up the middle. Teams stack the box on Fournette and he just gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage. He should also be active as a receiver. Last week he had two receptions for 46 yards.
The Last Word
At this point, the Jaguars have almost no hope of the playoffs. But the season isn’t over with and they shouldn’t play like it is. If Bortles can have just an ok game, the Jaguars will likely win. But he needs to play strong if he wants to be in the NFL for much longer. If the Jaguars front office is smart, they will draft a quarterback next year. With that in mind, Bortles can help himself and the team by getting a win Sunday.
Embed from Getty Images