The Jacksonville Jaguars made it known during the offseason that their intention was to sit their No. 3 overall pick in the draft, quarterback Blake Bortles, rather than throw him into the fire. The problem was, Bortles proved himself to be too good too soon for that to happen, so he made his debut in the second half of Week 3 and has been the starter ever since.
And he's better for it.
There were a fair amount of people who didn't want Bortles to start as a rookie, in fear of him getting "David Carr'd" and being destroyed by a young offensive line who was still trying to get things worked out and determine who the starters would be. Heading into Week 17, Bortles has been sacked 50 times on the season, but he's shown no effects of being sacked as many times as he has. Bortles has the mental makeup to be an NFL quarterback and it's better that the Jaguars know that now, before the end of his NFL season, than waiting to know.
While seeing your rookie NFL quarterback take a pounding isn't ideal, the knowledge Bortles has gotten from playing this season is invaluable. No amount of sitting on the bench and watching can teach him what he's learned in these 13 games.
Bortles has now experienced a myriad of NFL defensive looks, coverages and blitz packages. He has film of himself succeeding or failing against those. During the 2015 offseason, that film will be a massive help to his progression going forward.
One of the biggest areas of concern for Bortles playing as a rookie was that his mechanics were, and for the most part still remain, a mess. You can tell when he just "arm throws" a pass and when he actually steps into a throw properly. The latter are those flashes that you see each week. When those mechanics and footwork become second nature, which they should in time as he works on them during the offseason, he should become more consistent.
Another great thing about Bortles playing this year when it comes to his mechanics, is he has film on them now. It's one thing for the coaches to tell him what he needs to work on in the offseason, but now they have film where they can specifically pinpoint as to why. They can show him why he needs to set his feet on certain throws, or why he needs to square his shoulders on the run or why he needs to take a certain length stride when planting his back foot.
It's there for him to see.
Bortles' rookie season has left a lot to be desired, but he's also shown some of the qualities that general manager Dave Caldwell saw that made him pick him third overall. We all knew Bortles needed a lot of work when he was picked, but now he has the tools to be able to do that work in the offseason.