By: Allen Erickson
Ladies and gentlemen, last night we saw what, well, let’s be honest, we all expected to see. The New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars en route to yet another Super Bowl appearance for the evil empire (Brady and Belichick.)
While I’m a betting man, I’m also an honest man. I had money on New England, which pains me to say, but only for one single reason- Blake Bortles. Most of the time, when you bet on New England, it’s because of the aforementioned Brady and Belichick. Not this year. This year, you bet on them because Blake Bortles was by far the most inconsistent starting quarterback in the NFL, and that’s who they played in the AFC Championship game. That being said, Blake held up last night, and gave hope to Jacksonville fans, and perhaps, most importantly, shut up the nay-sayers like me. You know, those who were calling for Jacksonville to make a splash during the season and bring in a quarterback that would help this team compete.
The future is bright in Jacksonville. They’ve had a tough run, with 7 straight seasons with a top-5 pick in the NFL draft. However, with outstanding young talent, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Fournette, Myles Jack, Allen Hurns, etc. this team is loaded, and will be back, so long as Blake Bortles continues to play as he did in the postseason.
Blake had an average year, but made some throws in the regular season that had football fans everywhere wondering, what in the world do the Jags see in this guy? His total QBR ranked 23rd in the NFL this year, at 55.1. During the postseason run, Bortles came in 17 points better, at 72.0 and only turned the ball over twice in 3 games, 2 of which were road games (Pittsburgh and New England.)
With all of the uncertainty in the NFL, I was a huge skeptic of Bortles, and so were many of his colleagues. When bringing up the clear black-balling the NFL has done to Colin Kaepernick, many players point out that Blake Bortles has a job, why can’t Colin? I used to agree with them. But now, after a solid postseason showing, I believe Blake Bortles is here to stay, and will, eventually, lead Jacksonville to the promise land. Now, Richard Sherman, for your stabs at incompetent quarterbacks, you’ll have to throw shade at the likes of Mike Glennon, Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett, and Jay Cutler.
Not only has Bortles removed himself from this category, (for now;) he’s also proven that with the talent around him, he can go into Foxboro, face Brady and the Patriots, and make it a pretty close game. Yes, Jacksonville lost, but no fault goes to Bortles. 23-36 293 yards, 1 touchdown, no turnovers, and a passer rating of 98.5 is nothing to frown upon. 4 months ago, I was screaming at Coughlin and the Jaguars, saying WHY don’t you go get Eli Manning? He has a history with Tom Coughlin, he was in a toxic situation with the incompetent Ben MacAdoo at the helm, and it made sense as we watched Bortles struggle. I consider myself a sharp football mind, I study the game, I love the game, and I know the game. But I also know when to admit that I was wrong. And for now, Blake Bortles, I was wrong about you. Tom Coughlin, I was wrong to call you out on so many occasions. That’s a pill I’m willing to swallow, and believe me, if Bortles can play like he did last night in New England consistently, you better watch out for this Jacksonville team. The sky is the limit. Blake Bortles- much respect to you, for continuing to grind, get better, and have your team in position to beat New England in Foxboro, and go to the Super Bowl. Keep it up, and I’ll continue to sing your praises.
Until next time, Erickson out.