It's been nearly two decades since I can remember being this excited about the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback in a season opener.
As you retrace the steps that got us where we are today -- with a confident, athletic, strong-armed Blake Bortles under center -- you have to wade through a lot of mediocrity. Not since the 1990's, when Mark Brunell was at his peak, could we enter a season and actually take for granted the fact that our quarterback was going to play well.
I'm not saying we're there yet. We're not. But there's something different about this season opener and there's something different about being excited from the beginning.
For a long, long time, we've had to live on hopeful expectations for the guy waiting in the wings. When Brunell was fading, we looked towards Byron Leftwich. When Leftwich underachieved, we looked towards David Garrard. When Garrard hit his ceiling, we looked towards the 2011 NFL Draft. When the 2011 NFL Draft failed everyone, we looked towards journeymen quarterbacks like Chad Henne. When Henne's mediocrity became unbearable, we looked towards Bortles.
None of those quarterbacks -- not even Garrard in 2007 when he beat out Leftwich to become the starter -- had a strong enough offseason, training camp, and preseason to instill as much confidence in the offense going forward as Bortles has had. We've had months for Bortles to prove us wrong and it just hasn't happened.
Over the last 15 years, all we've had is hope in the next guy. Now, we get to be excited about our quarterback from the first snap of the season.
It's about damn time.