Stats don’t always tell an entire story, but these numbers do: 11-of-25 passing, 89 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions. That was Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles‘ line into the fourth quarter on Sunday, as the Tennessee Titans took a 30-3 lead on Sunday in Jacksonville’s home opener.
Some weeks, the Jaguars will play great defense and Leonard Fournette will run for plenty of yards and Jacksonville will win. That’s what happened in Week 1. Some weeks the defense won’t be as dominant, Fournette won’t sustain drives and the Jaguars will struggle. That’s what happened in a 37-16 loss to the Titans. The constant in all those weeks for Jacksonville – including next week against a good Baltimore Ravens defense in London, a game that will be streamed live by Yahoo Sports – is that they won’t get much from the passing game.
[Watch on Yahoo: Ravens vs. Jaguars live from London Sept. 24]
In Week 1 the Jaguars won 29-7 over the Houston Texans but Bortles had little to do with it. He completed 11 passes for 125 yards. At least he didn’t make mistakes. Not only did Jacksonville’s offense fall apart on Sunday against Tennessee, Bortles threw two picks in a three-pass stretch. Bortles was awful for the first three quarters and then padded his stats late in garbage time (which is a Bortles trademark).
Bortles has to be the epitome of a game manager. Jacksonville knows it won’t get a lot from him, especially now that No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson is out for the season with a torn ACL. But the Jags need him to keep the chains moving with some third-down throws and not turn it over. Even then the Jaguars’ margin of error will be thin, but at least it opens up a path to victories. If Bortles can’t even do that, the Jaguars won’t win many games. We saw that unfold on Sunday.
The Jaguars considered changing quarterbacks in the preseason, but stuck with Bortles over Chad Henne. If the offense has more games like it did Sunday, the coaching staff will have to consider Henne again. Until then, the Jaguars have to figure out ways to hide Bortles in the offense and win while getting little out of their passing game in a pass-heavy league. It won’t be easy.
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