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How does Blake Bortles usually play after an awful game?

NFL: New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

October 28, 2016.

That was the last day Greg Olson was the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The next day, he’d be fired. Earlier that week, the Jaguars looked pathetic on national television against the Tennessee Titans. A 36-22 final score didn’t show just how bad we were. Nathaniel Hackett was promoted from quarterbacks coach to lead this offense and salvage what he could from Bortles.

Since then, in the nearly two full seasons worth of games that have followed, Bortles has improved overall. He’s looked better than he did in the first few seasons of his career. But Blake still finds himself having what I would call “bad” games every few weeks — games where he wasn’t finding the receiver, wasn’t reading the field well, turning the ball over, or a mixture of all three.

The narrative goes that Bortles traditionally bounces back from bad games like what he had last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. I’m wondering if that’s actually true and what we can predict about how Bortles might play this Sunday against the New York Jets.

Let’s take a look at Bortles with Hackett as his offensive coordinator and if the weeks that followed “bad” games truly were a bounce back effort by Blake.


Weeks 8 and 9

Olson’s final game as offensive coordinator — away to the Tennessee Titans — was a bad game by Blake and a disaster for the offense (and defense) overall. Running backs had just seven carries for 26 yards all game as Blake threw the ball 54 times. The entire first half was comprised of five drives that ended in punts, three of which went three-and-out. Blake’s not going to play well when the game plan is that one-dimensional but he still didn’t get going until the second half when the team was down 27-0. It was all around one of the worst games I’ve ever watched on every side of the ball.

That next game was away as well, but Blake played marginally better against the Kansas City Chiefs. It wasn’t great but it was better. The offense leaned hard on the run game as Chris Ivory went over 100 yards. But down 19-14 and just 30 yards away from the end zone, the Jaguars faced second-and-1. They failed to convert on three tries.

Verdict: Improved, but not by much.

Weeks 13 and 14

Returning home after two close losses on the road, the Denver Broncos came to town. Blake was, well, awful — going 19-for-42 with two interceptions. Seven of the Jaguars’ 16 drives that game went for three or fewer plays.

The next week, Blake bounced back, going toe-to-toe with a 6-6 Minnesota Vikings team. He completed nearly two-thirds of his throws, he threw two touchdowns — and then the Vikings scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and we lost 25-16.

Verdict: Improved.

Weeks 15 and 16

In Gus Bradley’s final game of his head coaching career with the Jaguars, Blake had the most unproductive game of his quarterbacking career against the Houston Texans on the road — just 92 yards on 28 attempts, a paltry 3.2 yards per attempt. And what’s insane is the Jaguars led 13-0 at one point in this game, only to fall 21-20 on the road.

He went out the next week and torched the Tennessee Titans for 325 yards and two touchdowns. He set season bests in completion percentage (68.4 percent) and yards per attempt (8.5).

Verdict: Improved dramatically.


Weeks 2 and 3

In the home opener against the Tennessee Titans, the entire offense laid an egg in the first half. The defense kept it close (it was just 6-3 at halftime) but the Titans scored 31 second half points and the Jaguars didn’t score again until the middle of the fourth quarter. After an opening drive field goal, the Jaguars either punted or turned the ball over on eight straight drives — including two drives that ended in interceptions — before Blake could add some garbage time points to make the box score not look awful.

Blake then comes out the next week and torches the Baltimore Ravens in London for four touchdowns on the way to a 44-7 rout.

Verdict: Improved dramatically.

Weeks 4, 5, and 6

This stretch is a bit different because Blake had two games in a row I’d consider awful — Week 4 at the New York Jets (15-for-35 for 140 yards and an interception) and then Week 5 at the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-for-14 for 95 yards and and an interception). If not for the defense scoring two touchdowns in the second half, both of these are losses.

He then comes out in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams and doesn’t have the worst game, but it’s not his best game ever. It was a 27-17 loss at home, but that could have been a meh game that Blake won had special teams not melted down for a blocked punt and two missed field goals.

Verdict: Didn’t improve until two bad games and then it wasn’t by much.

Weeks 10 and 11

Remember that home game against the Los Angeles Chargers last season? What a wild ride and one that Blake almost threw away multiple times. If not for a Herculean effort by the defense, that’s a game that finishes as a loss. Blake looked bad and a big reason why was because the run game was getting zero push — running backs accounted for just 45 yards on the ground (not including Corey Grant’s fake punt).

The next game was away against the Cleveland Browns and we jumped out to an early 10-0 lead (as we should have against a team that was going to go 0-16 that year) but then the offense just sputtered and a big reason was Bortles’ inefficiency — eight of the team’s final 10 drives ended in a punt or fumble and Bortles was just 5-for-11, suffered two sacks, and fumbled the ball once in the second half.

Verdict: Bad both games.

Weeks 12 and 13

If your team loses to Blaine Gabbert, your quarterback played poorly. Them’s the rules, y’all. Blake had just 4.8 yards per attempt against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11, his third lowest of the season.

And then he comes out in Week 12 and torches the Indianapolis Colts at home for 309 yards, two touchdowns, and an easy 30-10 victory.

Verdict: Improved dramatically.

Weeks 16 and 17

Coming off the team’s first playoff berth in a decade, Blake had back-to-back road games to finish out the season and... well... he didn’t do that well. Sure, he threw for a season-high 382 yards but 224 of them came in the second half as the 49ers were running away with the game. Oh, and three interceptions — one returned for a touchdown and two in the second half as the Jaguars were trying to keep pace.

He followed that up with a season finale against the Tennessee Titans where he completed 44 percent of his passes and threw for two interceptions.

Verdict: Bad both games.

Wild Card and Divisional Playoff

With the team’s first playoff victory in a decade on the line, the Jaguars offense as a whole came out flat against the Buffalo Bills. Blake averaged just 3.1 yards per attempt and ran (88) for more yards than he threw (87). The team was able to grind out a win, but only because of the defense shutting down the Bills for three points.

He followed that up with probably his best performance to date — a road win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the playoffs. It’s not coincidental that the run game was clicking and that the defense helped the team with turnovers in enemy territory and touchdowns of their own. But Blake went into Pittsburgh and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. The most impressive thing about the victory? He was responsible for seven of the team’s eight third down conversions on the day. Whew.

Verdict: Improved dramatically.


Weeks 1 and 2

Compared to other bad Blake games, the season opener this year against the New York Giants was tame compared to what we’ve already seen. But it still wasn’t a good day and if not for the defense scoring a touchdown of their own and shutting down that last stand by Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. it would have likely been a loss.

And then the next week he completes two-thirds of his passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns on the way to exposing the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick.

Verdict: Improved dramatically.

Weeks 3 and 4

After beating down the Patriots, it was another bad game for Blake and the offense. He may have completed over 61 percent of his passes, but there were absolutely no shots taken downfield and he averaged just 4.8 yards per attempt. Along with running backs running for 60 yards on 18 carries, the offense managed just six points while the defense shut down the Titans — for nine points and a loss.

Blake then goes out the next week and completed over 76 percent of his passes for a career high 388 yards, two touchdowns, and 10.2 yards per attempt. Go figure.

Verdict: Improved dramatically.

Weeks 5 and 6

Blake comes out after a career day in Week 4 and implodes against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, throwing four interceptions and a host of other bad throws on the way to a 33-for-61 day that was just awful. He threw interceptions off his teammates’ helmets, he had a pick-six to the biggest defender on the field, and more.

This week? He’s on the road again against the Dallas Cowboys.

Verdict: ???


Blake is an inconsistent quarterback. It is what it is at this point. But what we can see is that historically Blake has bounced back from bad games. In fact, he’s done so nearly twice as often as he’s not since Hackett has been his offensive coordinator.

And a lot of the time, Blake’s bad games are tied to a lack of production from his running backs. Not surprisingly, Blake’s bounce back games are tied to a bounce back from the running backs as well.

Does that mean he’ll do well at AT&T Stadium on Sunday? Maybe. Maybe not.

But the odds are in his favor.