The Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 training camp and preseason feels a lot different than last year. The team is coming in with actual expectations this offseason, compared to last year where most people were just praying they’d win more than three games. One of the biggest changes to last year is quarterback Blake Bortles has a firm grasp on the starting quarterback position and hasn’t come close to putting anyone in panic mode with his play.
This time last year, Bortles was benched in favor of giving Chad Henne a shot at starting and there was wide belief it was possible Bortles wouldn’t even be on the opening day roster.
“Yes. It feels good to not get benched this week. That is a positive,” Bortles said when asked if he was appreciative of how different this offseason has been compared to last. “I didn’t play good and what happens at that level is that if you don’t play good, they are going to find someone that can play. I think just continuing to try and do whatever I can to help us as an offense move the ball, pick up yards, pick up first downs, score touchdowns, put up points and most importantly take care of it and not turn it over. I think as long as I am able to continue to do that for our offense, I think we will be in good shape.”
Bortles ended up getting the starting job back in part because Henne failed to capitalize and in part because of Bortles versatility as a playmaker with his feet. The latter came in handy a few times last year, namely against the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs and showed up in this past Saturday’s preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings.
“I think we did some good stuff. The first series was slow. The second series I obviously threw the pick and then we bounced back,” Bortles said of how he thought he played against the Vikings. “We were playing a really good defense and a 10-12-play drive together and went on the field and scored. I thought that was good to be able to bounce back from that as a team and overcome that adversity, put the defense on the field, they get a turnover, give us a chance and we go capitalize and go get 7. I thought that was good. There is always stuff to clean up. It is still Week 2 in the preseason going into Week 3, so we still have a little bit of time to get ready to go. I think we are definitely headed in the right direction.”
Bortles preseason this season so far has been pretty steady. While I wouldn’t classify his game as “good” against the Vikings, considering the defense he was going up against it was fine. It was a follow up to a good game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 where the offense marched right down the field on the opening drive and scored a touchdown.
In Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons, Bortles has a chance to likely finish out the preseason strong. If he can go out and put together a couple of drives against the Falcons defense, score some touchdowns and not turn the football over, it might squash some of the ridiculous “trade for Bridgewater” talk that the national media has latched on to.
Probably not, though.