The talk for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has picked up with his play, posting some good stats and making some excellent throws and plays with his legs, especially on national television against the Detroit Lions last week. There has been some tendency for some, especially national people, to pump the brakes a little bit on Bortles.
"He looked good last preseason, too," is what they say, pointing to his poor 2014 regular season as a way to dismiss what he’s done so far.
While it may sound like a valid point, it’s an exceptionally lazy and dismissive one.
Bortles did have good stats in the preseason in 2014 and made some big plays, but it wasn’t the same. A lot of the plays Bortles made last preseason were broken plays, where he got outside the pocket or made a crazy throw. Very few of them seemed to be in calm situations where he dropped back, went through his progressions and made a play.
It was more like sandlot football.
This season has been completely different. Bortles is leading long sustained drives, where he has to make a variety of throws and hasn’t really left the pocket. He has made some plays with his feet, but he’s done them when necessary rather than relying on them. When he’s forced out of the pocket, he picks up yards. When pressure comes in though, he’s stepping up in the pocket and hitting throws down field. He’s looking off defenders and going from one side of the field to the other.
He just looks like a completely different player, stats or not. He appears comfortable in Greg Olson’s offense, much more comfortable than he looked all of last season with Jedd Fisch. As mentioned, he’s lead multiple 10+ play drives where the team marches right down the field, mostly on the plays of his arm. He’s made some excellent "window" throws and his ball placement appears to be much better.
So sure, he did look good last preseason and if you want to be cautious about getting excited for the regular season, that’s your prerogative.
It’s different, though. It’s different.