Okay guys this is an easy argument for me but let’s see what you think. Blake Bortles, who I had some hope for out of UCF during his college days, is on the open market. He has failed in Jacksonville and has been released by the Broncos. Yet he has talent so he could provide us an avenue for improvement given the Jets depth chart.
Bortles was a long shot to make it in Denver for a few reasons. John Elway was a great QB but is abysmal at evaluating the QB position. Most players who are great at their positions in almost every sport are usually horrific at coaching or seeing the future of a young player. Baseball, football, and basketball are littered with great players failing as coaches and executives.
Being a GM or a coach is not easier because you played your sport at a high level. It just isn’t. Great players think on different levels than ordinary players. Some give far more effort. Coaching takes patience and the ability to successfully explain something of incredible complexity to a person who may have a rudimentary understanding of the concept.
I personally had a great professor in college who got into a car accident and was in the hospital. This was a basic college algebra course, something I had a great understanding of. He was replaced by a professor of great intellect who once worked at NASA.
This professor had an infinite knowledge of math but zero ability to teach it. He had a simple algebra problem worked out on 7 blackboards. I am not kidding. If you have been in a college lecture in a room that has numerous blackboards that slide up and down you know what I mean. The first test was failed by every single student. I had the 3rd highest grade, and I had a 57% score. We also had 5 students who were math majors in the class and had already passed calculus but all failed this test. The university had to reset the class and provide another professor after the fallout. I received an A in the class by the way. It proved to me right there that intellect on a subject doesn’t mean you can teach it.
I have seen Bortles make numerous mistakes reading defenses and making poor decisions. This is expected from a young player, especially if he doesn’t get great coaching. Let’s see who has taught Blake Bortles through the years.
In 2014 (the year he was drafted) he was coached by offensive coordinator Jedd Frisch, is a journeyman coach who was fired after the season. His head coach was Gus Bradley who is a defensive coach. The only thing he knows about offense is he can’t stop it.
His QB coach was Frank Scelfo, an older coach who moved to offensive assistant following the 2014 season. He was let go after the 2015 season to become the offensive coordinator at the University of San Antonio at El Paso.
In 2015 Greg Olsen was brought in by Gus Bradley to ignite the offense with mixed results. Bortles had 35 TD with 18 INTs for 4428 yards passing (which would be a Jets record by over 400 yards) but still is far too many INTs. His QB coach was Nathaniel Hackett who took over as offensive coordinator in 2016. Hackett is a solid coach who is now the offensive coordinator in Green Bay. He doesn’t have to do much coaching there. He doesn’t even call plays. That job is handled by head coach Matt LaFleur.
Hackett had Bortles for three years in Jacksonville. The 2nd year was the most promising. Jacksonville made the playoffs and almost advanced to the Super Bowl but lost a heartbreaking Playoff game to the New England Patriots. Jacksonville had beaten the Bills then registered a magnificent win against the heavily favored Steelers. They held a 10 point lead against New England in the 4th quarter but lost with New England scoring two Danny Amendola TDs in the last 9 minutes of the game.
The Jaguars had scaled back their offense when they took the lead (always a death blow to yourself against the Patriots) only to lose the game late. Bortles was 23 of 36 passing in the game for 293 yards and a single TD with zero INTs.
In fact Bortles did well against the New England defense numerous times. It was usually his own defense that let the team down. Here are a few clips against the Patriots. This isn’t earth shattering play but it shows a stable confident passer who can be successful when he takes what is given to him.
Here he is reading the coverage. He immediately sees his tight end get leverage on the safety. The big TE has a clear path to the sideline once he makes contact with the safety who is guarding his inside tract, not wanting him to cross his face to the left side of the field. This works perfectly with the play which is designed to break to the right into the flat.
Bortles stands tall in the pocket. He can feel the pressure so he takes a hop step forward, eye on the receiver, and put a strong pass onto the fingertips of the receiver to the outside of his body. By doing so the defender has no chance to disrupt the play. This was a calm, easy reading play, executed perfectly gaining 17 yards.
This next play is a 3rd down and 6 play on his own 20 yard line. You need to make a play to keep the ball or New England is going to get the ball back with great field position.
Bortles again is calm in the pocket. He is seeing the field. This is New England in a nutshell. It’s 3rd and 6 so they are in press man coverage in the face every receiver. Bortles sees his first two reads covered so he immediately takes off outside to run for a first down to keep the drive alive. Bortles is a big, strong kid who is a good athlete. He can make plays with his feet when necessary.
This next play is a read off the snap as Bortles sees his receiver to the left in single coverage without any help over the top. I am sure this is a (wink-nod) look to the receiver that lets him know I am coming your way once the coverage is read.
You can see off the snap that the receiver is working to the outside then races as fast as he can to get atop the defender. By doing so he is giving Bortles the back corner of the end zone as a safe place to make the throw for a TD. Bortles takes a 3 step drop then drops the ball in the bucket for the score. If you want to nit pick (I’m looking at you Wize) the throw could have been about 2 -3 yards deeper in the end zone, but we will take the result.
This last play is a pick play to the tight end ASJ (former Jet) with 12 seconds remaining in the half. This is an easy TD as the receiver is wide open, but Bortles doesn’t hurry the throw and he lays in a beautiful soft pass to the wide open target.
The ability to take an 18 point advantage into halftime against a team like the Patriots is huge. This was not the aforementioned AFC Championship Game. This is a game the following season.
I don’t think that Bortles is the answer to the Jets’ offensive woes. I don’t know if he is even starting material unless he gets great coaching and is in the same offense for a couple of years. Bortles’ problem is he gets rattled then makes huge mistakes that a starting QB in the NFL cannot make.
I think if you bring Bortles in this is a move designed to help the next coaching staff. You know Adam Gase isn’t going to turn Bortles into a Pro Bowl QB. Yet if you look at the roster you can’t tell me Bortles doesn’t have more upside than a Mike White or even a Joe Flacco. This team is going nowhere this year, and Flacco has no future with this franchise.
Bortles is a 6’ 5” 235 lbs QB who is a very good athlete and 28 years old. He has thrown for over 17,000 yards in his career and has 28 more TDs than INTs. Is he a starting QB right now? The answer would be no, but put him in the right offense and you never know. He doesn’t even need to be on the roster. How about the practice squad?
There was a journeyman QB years ago who went to a team having never had success. The starting QB was injured in preseason and this 28 year old nobody took his team to the Super Bowl and won. That QB is now in the Hall of Fame so if you find the right offense maybe you will find the next Kurt Warner. Just saying.
That is what I think.
What do you think...?