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Blake Bortles: A statistical look into the enigma

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A statistical look at the puzzle that is Blake Bortles.

NFL: International Series-Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars
Wil the real Blake Bortles please stand up?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Bortles is an enigma. That’s no secret. How can we, the fans, look at his play and gain any sort of semblance for what kind of year he’s going to have?

The answer lies in the statistical analysis.

Most stasticians agree that a sample size greater than 30 is enough to generate an accurate sample of whatever population it is we’re trying to measure. In this case, what’s different between 2016 Blake and 2017 Blake?

With 51 completions in 86 attempts so far this season, I believe we can glean some information about the type of player Bortles has been this year.

Situational stats

Looking at the situational stats really opened my eyes as to how atrocious the previous coaching regime was and how poorly Blake was managed.

Here are Blake’s 2016 stats by quarter:

Blake’s 2016 stats by quarter

Without even calling attention to one specific stat, it’s clear that his numbers were poor across the board. But pay careful attention to the first quarter stats, because in a minute, I’m gonna blow your mind.

Here are his 2017 stats by quarter.

Blake’s 2017 stats by quarter

It’s a dramatic rise, and while it could regress as the season wears on, I think it’s important to note that the first quarter is largely determined by the competency of the coaching staff. Can they come up with a script for the first 10 plays or so that can successfully get them points? That’s what the players are practicing throughout the week, because starting a game on the right foot can build much needed, positive momentum.

It’s clear that Marrone and his staff are much better offensive gameplanners than the previous coaching staff. Blake’s stats reflect that.

Even looking at Blake’s stats by attempt confirms more of the same.

Blake’s 2016 stats by attempt
Blake’s 2017 stats by attempt

Throughout the week, the offensive staff installs a gameplan based on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. The first 10 attempts by a quarterback in the game is scripted. The differences in QB Rating speak for themselves.

Additionally, the drop from six interceptions within the first 10 attempts all year to zero speaks to Blake’s increased comfort with Hackett’s playcalling.

I think it’s interesting that Blake had a 90.9 QBR on attempts 11-20 of a game in 2016, but a 59.0 QBR in those same attempts in 2017. I don’t know if it’s a product of Hackett and Bortles going off script, or just an aberration.

Again, it’s really early, but it’s important to take a look at these stats as we try and figure out who the real Blake Bortles is. I think Hackett realized that limiting Blake to the extent we saw in Week 1 and the beginning of Week 2 isn’t sustainable. Hats off to him for designing an offensive gameplan that was virtually flawless against the Ravens. We’ll see if he can do it again this week.