The first round of the NFL Draft has come and gone, and with the fourth overall pick, the Jaguars selected LSU running back Leonard Fournette.
Before the first round, the Jaguars were heavily linked to Deshaun Watson, as quarterback Blake Bortles is coming off of an awful 2016 season and hasn't given anyone faith that he can turn things around in 2017. However, in not drafting a quarterback in the first round, and considering there aren't any legitimate quarterbacks left that could unseat Bortles as the starter in this draft — besides Deshone Kizer, who has yet to be linked to the Jaguars at all — one thing has become clear: The Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone-led Jaguars have put their faith in Bortles as their quarterback to start the 2017 season.
I’ve often been criticized for not having faith in Bortles. I just struggle putting faith in a quarterback who has as many pick-sixes as he has wins in his three year career (11). That shouldn't lead to ostracizing, because it's silly to have faith in such a situation. But I also get it: We all want to see Blake Bortles succeed, even myself. I'm with you in thinking that.
I have grown up a fan of the UCF Knights. I watched Bortles become a star and lead his team to a Fiesta Bowl win in 2014. He was electric; He was fun. I vouched for him come draft time: I wanted Blake Bortles to be my Jaguars' first round pick in 2014, and I got my wish.
However, bias leads to irrationality. Even with my love for the guy, I see the quarterback Blake Bortles was in 2016 and it wasn't good. In fact, it was horrible. Not only did I feel awful watching the Jaguars blow the 2016 season with a 3-13 record after such high hopes for contention in the AFC South from the previous season and offseason, but I felt awful for Bortles himself. He was ranked, by his NFL peers, as the 56th best player in the league after his 35 touchdown 2015 season, and completely fell off in 2016. His mechanics were awful, he seemingly lost all of his confidence as the season wore on, and his team won a measly three games. How can anyone not pity him?
However, although we do pity him, we shouldn't allow that pity to lead to irrationality. Fans have clamored that Bortles will turn it around in 2017. That's irrational thinking. Can he do it? God, I hope so, but how can we just disregard his regression so easily and claim he will "be fine" or "be better" in 2017? We can't, as we don't have the proof that suggests he can do so.
Rather, I'm going to head into the 2017 with low hopes and pray that he proves me wrong. That is rational thinking. That doesn't make me a "Bortles-hater", rather, that's just logical. I know people won't agree with me, and like I said, I get it, but "Assuming makes an ass of u and me" -- We can't put faith in a turnaround. All we can do is hope.
With my spew aside, fans who believe in a turnaround have gotten their wish: Unless some completely unexpected event, such as a trade for a quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo or the team announcing Brandon Allen as the 2017 starter, Blake Bortles is the Jaguars starting quarterback for the 2017 season.
Now, go build around him. Grab an offensive lineman with the 35th pick. Hell, I’d be cool with an offense lineman at both 35 and 68. If the team is going to commit to a complete risk at quarterback in what will be an incredibly telling 2017 season, go do everything in your power to give that quarterback any and everything he needs to find success.
Blake Bortles is the Jaguars starting quarterback for 2017. We can't logically put faith in a turnaround from him this season, but we can hope for it.
Let's all do so.