Well, it is officially July! That means that training camp starts in roughly three-and-a-half weeks, and we will be able to watch some live NFL action very soon.
With that in mind, to help us get through the dead period easier, I asked Big Cat Country readers to tell me which topics they would like to see covered. While I am not going to be able to get to all of the responses, I am going to try to delve into quite a few of the proposed topics.
Let’s start out with @DCizzle’s inquiry. He was curious how Blake Bortles can make the NFL Top 100 list in 2019. This should be fun.
How Blake Bortles can make the NFL Top 100 list next year (2019).— D.C. (@DCizzle25) June 24, 2018
First, I think it’s important to remember that the NFL Top 100 list is player-voted. However, many have criticized the voting process because roughly only half of the players vote, and when they do vote, they’re only casting votes for their top-20 players. A 2016 article by ProFootballTalk detailed this process.
With all of that said, to make the list, you must be respected by your peers. Bortles is not — ask Jadeveon Clowney or check out Jurrell Casey’s thoughts on the matter (I’m sure both of whom enjoyed watching the AFC Championship game from their respective couches). There is a stigma with Bortles that may never go away.
So, the first barrier Bortles has to clear is earning that respect and consideration from his fellow NFL players. In order to that, Bortles must become more consistent, build off of his relatively efficient 2017 season and carry the momentum from his postseason play into the 2018 season.
Second, let’s quickly recap the quarterbacks who made the list: Tom Brady (No. 1), Carson Wentz (No. 3), Drew Brees (No. 8), Aaron Rodgers (No. 10), Russell Wilson (No. 11), Ben Roethlisberger (No. 18), Cam Newton (No. 25), Matt Ryan (No. 29), Matthew Stafford (No. 31), Jared Goff (No., 38), Deshaun Watson (No. 50), Case Keenum (No. 51), Philip Rivers (No. 56), Derek Carr (No. 60), Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 90), Kirk Cousins (No. 94)
There are some surprises on this list, in my opinion, since the voting is also supposed to be based off of the previous season:
- Carson Wentz was voted third best in the entire league.
- Jimmy Garoppolo made the list despite only starting five games last year.
- Case Keenum ranked No. 51 after one single stellar (but slightly less than full) season
- Deshaun Watson made the top-50 despite only starting six games.
- Aaron Rodgers cracked the top-10 despite only playing seven games.
Of course arguments can be made to justify all of these rankings. Wentz was having an MVP year until he tore his ACL. Garoppolo, albeit in limited action, was impressive and has never lost a start. Keenum was a big surprise, and a huge reason why the Vikings had an NFC Championship run. Watson was lighting the league on fire before suffering a season-ending injury. Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. But what all of this tells me is that you don’t have to have a complete season of stellar play to be voted onto the list.
In 2017, Bortles threw for more yards than seven of the quarterbacks on the list. However, 13 of the 16 quarterbacks threw more touchdowns than Bortles, including Wentz who played in three less games. In fact, only Rodgers, Watson and Garoppolo threw for less touchdown passes, and all three players played in seven games or less. His interception rate of 2.5 percent was tied with Carr and Rodgers, and better than Newton, Watson, Jimmy G. and Roethlisberger, but worse than the other quarterbacks mentioned. Where Bortles thrives, though, is the red zone and his 18 touchdown passes was a better mark than 11 of the 16 signal-callers.
While high-level statistics are fun to look at, they don’t seem to mean much for the Top 100 list since several players who played less than half of the season made the list. Wins or making deep playoff pushes don’t mean much, either, as half of the teams these quarterbacks play on didn’t make the playoffs. That number increases to 11 when looking at quarterbacks who didn’t win at least one playoff game last season.
There really isn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to make this list, other than you have flash in the pan success in a limited sample size or you have consistent success all season. Inconsistent players like Bortles may have a harder time being voted onto the list because sometimes the poor play overshadows the good play.
With that said, here are my takeaways after looking into this. If Bortles will be considered a top 100 player heading into the 2019 season, he should throw more touchdowns, lower his interception rating and assure he is not the reason his team is losing games. In a run-first, smash-mouth offense, it’s hard for Bortles to stand out. But Top 100 list or not, he’s not worried about the haters, so long as his team continues to win. And neither am I.
Bortles was ranked No. 56 on the list heading into the 2016 campaign.