The Jacksonville Jaguars have a quarterback problem.
Through the first six games, Blake Bortles has been the reason they’ve lost games (at worst) and good enough (at best). He’s had trouble going through his reads, making decisions, not locking onto receivers, and more.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson has tried to scheme around that, sprinkling in the hurry-up offense and calling plays which allow Bortles to move outside the pocket and throw on the move. He hasn’t been great, but he’s arguably been a bit better when those things are happening.
So why not just base the entire offense around that?
Jeff Lageman and Mike Dempsey received a few calls asking just that this morning on 1010XL’s Jaguars Today and I thought Lageman put it really well.
First, Lageman said “if you’re a quarterback in the NFL, you have to be a pocket passer”. There is short-term success to be had by scheming away from that, and there are certainly examples of quarterbacks who have done really well doing some unconventional things. But the overwhelming evidence shows that pocket passers who don’t use the hurry-up and instead take the extra 20-25 seconds to allow the offensive coordinator to help out and then read the defense and make pre-snap reads is who will do well.
Next, Lageman talked about the playbook and how it’s greatly limited when you move away from a standard offense. When you run the hurry-up, the playbook is limited. There are only so many plays that the quarterback can communicate in the hurry-up. You don’t have a huddle where one play could have dozens of variations and you need that huddle to get all 11 guys on the same page.
And getting Bortles outside the pocket also limits the offense because this Jaguars offense was built on the vertical pass. You don’t pass down the field with Bortles on the move. Vertical passes come when Bortles sets his feet in the pocket. When Bortles is on the move, you limit yourself to crossing patterns, misdirections, and (mostly) passes that are designed to go 10 yards or less in the air.
Lastly, the Jaguars don’t have an elite offensive line. But the offensive line is pretty good when it comes to pass protection. Through the first five games, they were at fault for just 8.5 sacks. The offensive line is more than good enough for a pocket passer.
I get that Bortles has been slightly better in hurry-up or outside the pocket. But that’s a band-aid and it actually delays answering the question of whether the Jaguars have a franchise quarterback or not.