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Doug Marrone: Blake Bortles’ turning point was Week 9 vs. Bengals

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has been a very volatile player in his four-year career. His rookie season was rough (understandably). In his sophomore season he alternated between games with or without turnovers before going through a seven-game stretch where he threw for between 70 and 44 completion percentages — and everything in between.

His junior year was horrendous, throwing for as badly as 12-for-28 for 92 yards and one interception one week and then going 26-for-38 for 325 yards and one touchdown the next.

And last year was much of the same. He had games early (Pittsburgh Steelers), middle (Arizona Cardinals), and late (Tennessee Titans) that I’m sure he’d want to forget. But he also had a stretch of the season (Weeks 13-15) where he threw for a combined 71.4 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, and 9.9 yards per pass attempt.

While at this year’s league meetings, head coach Doug Marrone decided not to focus on the up-and-down nature of Bortles’ play last year and told NFL Network’s Judy Battista that the reason for the team’s deep playoff run was because of Bortles’ play in the second half of the season — starting in Week 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

(Thanks to Jay Johnson at JagsWire for transcribing the interview!)

“I think that Blake has gone through a lot of different coordinators and obviously a different head coach. We really saw a good jump from him from last year to during the season. There was a lot going on in the preseason when we obviously opened up the competition. Then Blake took it over and played quarterback for us, and really from the Cincinnati game on, made some great strides for us.”

I don’t know if I like this timing. The two games after Week 9 — against the Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, and Arizona Cardinals — Blake played very poorly and if not for standout defensive games against the Chargers and Browns, we might have lost those games. (The Cardinals game, however, was a letdown on both sides of the ball, so I won’t hang that entirely on Blake, but he still didn’t play well.)

If anything, Blake’s turnaround was in Weeks 13-15 that I mentioned above. But even then, he followed that up with disappointing performances against the San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, and Buffalo Bills in the playoffs.

And then he had his best game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And then he had us up by 10 points at halftime against the New England Patriots.

And then we lost.

You know what? There is no turning point. This is who Blake is. He’s an up-and-down guy with a coin flip’s chance to play well for you any given Sunday and you’re betting that when you absolutely need it you’re calling the right side of the coin.