There has been a lot of chatter about Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, including some players taking shots at him, but most of that has to do with his inconsistency as a passer and knack for turning it over in big moments. Something that’s flown under the radar a bit with Bortles is his ability to run the football, but some Steelers players clearly view it as an issue and are something they seem to be worried about.
“You’ve got to make sure you account for Bortles,” linebacker Bud Dupree told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t let him scramble, that we’re disciplined in our rush lanes and make sure we bring him down. He’s a great athlete. He runs fast. He can make you miss. He’s big, and he even tries to run you over sometimes.”
On the season Bortles has nearly 400 rushing yards, most of that coming off scrambles when a passing play breaks down or when there is some pressure, but the team has also ran a few option plays where Bortles has kept the ball and usually resulted in chunks of yards.
Last week in the Jaguars 10-3 win against the Buffalo Bills, Bortles actually had more rushing yards than he did passing yards, albeit by only a single yard and only for 88 yards rushing. But still, Bortles’ legs are likely going to be a factor on Sunday in a game expected to be in the cold and snow.
“He might not be the fastest guy in the world,” cornerback Joe Haden added, “but it you get a first down on third-and-8 or third-and-9, those kill a defense.”
Hopefully Bortles will be “on” in the passing game and perhaps Steelers defensive players worrying about his wheels can help in that regard, but at least there can be something else he brings to the table if the passing game isn’t working.