Much of the story during the 2018 NFL offseason was about Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. More specifically, the discussion was about how the Jaguars re-signed him and were crazy to be a “committed” to him long term. Parsing that criticism is for another day, but by all accounts Bortles has picked up where he left off this offseason despite was sounded like a rough day on Monday.
One great thing about Bortles has been that no matter what, his teammates always seem to rally around him. If you remember in the past for guys like Blaine Gabbert, teammates weren’t ready to jump to his defense. With Bortles, even when he was getting benched and looked like a lost cause, his teammates would always support him. This is even true for his newer teammates like tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who immediately noticed that the perception of Bortles nationally is a lot different than the reality.
“Perception and reality are different,” Seferian-Jenkins said on Monday after practice when asked if his perception of Bortles has changed since playing with him. “People can think whatever they think. I don’t care. I don’t think you should care what people think about you if you know who you are as a person. I know Blake knows what type of quarterback he is. I think he is a hell of a quarterback. I think he makes plays when it counts. I think he wins football games when it counts.”
While Bortles numbers weren’t flashy in 2017 and he still had a few stinker games where he nearly cost the Jaguars games, towards the end of the season his play leveled out and he was able to make plays in big moments, something he’d struggled with in the past. Even thought he couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn against the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs, you do have to give him credit for making plays that needed to be made with his legs.
“I am pretty sure he was in my draft class, and I don’t know any other quarterbacks that have won a playoff game in our draft class. He is the only one to do that. I know quarterbacks are drafted to win Super Bowls and win playoff games and win big games and he has done that. He had made that progression. I think the perception is wrong and I think the perception needs to be changed because people aren’t realizing it is a progression. It takes time,” Seferian-Jenkins continued. “You can’t just come in here and be the best quarterback ever. It takes time from year one to year two to year three. People have to realize the progression of Blake Bortles from year one to year two to year three and year four and now year five with a different offensive system and see the jump he made. A lot of people want to talk bad about this and that last year. That was his best year. If you look at his stats, he did a lot better than a lot of the other  other quarterbacks in the NFL. They can say whatever they want about it. They can say negative things, but Blake is going to keep going back there, he is going to keep making throws and when he needs to run, he is going to run. He is going to do what it takes to win and that is what you want in a quarterback. A guy that wants to win and does the job every single day. If he messes up, he is going to go out there and sling it again, not timid at all. That is what I want in a quarterback. That is what we need in a quarterback.”
“I am happy we have Blake Bortles here.”
I don’t know what it is exactly about Bortles, but he’s easy as hell to root for and is someone you want to see succeed. For as critical as I am with Bortles, I still all the time say/think “Man, please be good” because I remember what it was like with jerkoffs like Gabbert around that were just exceedingly difficult to root for. I don’t know if it’s because he has the “one of us” type of vibe, but it’s clear that factor not only resonates with fans, but with his teammates.