Blake Bortles can be a quality NFL QB
Through four weeks, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has a +0.1 cumulative overall grade (No. 18 among all QBs), brought up by his +2.5 grade earned this past Sunday in Indianapolis. While it’s only one game, it was by far the best performance of his short career.
Bortles has shown a massive change this season, attacking defenses down field. In his rookie year, he had a yards in air (YIA) rate of 45.0, third-lowest in the league, ahead of only Alex Smith and Robert Griffin III. This season, that’s jumped all the way to 63.6, fourth among NFL QBs.
Things could be even better, as his receivers are tied for fourth for most drops (11), costing the Jaguars 118 yards so far. Only 10 percent of his throws traveled more than 20 yards in the air last year, and he’s nearly doubled that to 19.9 percent this year. He already has 11 deep pass completions after completing just 13 all of last year. However, his yards-per-attempt (YPA) is fairly similar, 6.12 to 6.38, which could be a slight cause for concern.
Still a work in progress, his accuracy is slightly down from 70.0 percent to 67.6. A bigger concern is his YPA when not using play action—it was 5.9 last year, and it’s dipped to 5.4. All three of those marks are near the bottom for QBs.
However, when he does use play action, we see a massive YPA jump from 7.0 to 11.3. Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon grades slightly above average at +1.6 on the year, so the Jaguars’ run game isn’t scaring anyone.
Not only has Bortles improved, but receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have also upped their game. Like Bortles, both are benefiting from the scheme change, and have seen increases in their yardsper route run (YPRR)—Robinson from 1.64 to 2.09, and Hurns from 1.31 to 2.14.
While we shouldn’t overreact to a single game’s results, it does look like new offensive coordinator Greg Olson is putting Bortles (and receivers) in a better position to succeed. Bortles has only 18 NFL games under his belt, and looking at the first four weeks of this season, the Jaguars should be optimistic about their quarterback.