We've seen enough. Well, I'm sure plenty had seen enough before Sunday morning's embarrassing display. But consider this a final nail in the coffin: The Blake Bortles Era needs to die.
Bortles has been much maligned during his time in Jacksonville, he himself went as far as to self-proclaim himself the "scapegoat" of the franchise.
"I totally understand I'm the scapegoat for this team. When we play good, 'The defense played well, the running back did good, the receivers made great plays.' And when we play bad, 'Blake Bortles is the worst quarterback on the face of the planet.'"
Well...yeah. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and walks like a duck, guess what? It's probably a duck. (Translation: Bortles is bad.)
And here's the thing: The Jaguars are a team ready to win now. This defense has all of the talent in the world. The receivers are capable run after catch threats. The team is continuing to build it's offensive identity in a power running game.
Yes, injuries are a problem. The team has missed OT Cam Robinson, WR Marqise Lee and RB Leonard Fournette. Each has a primary role to play in Jacksonville's offensive identity.
Yet at the end of the day, Bortles has this team floundering to stay in games on a weekly basis. The team has tried to put the offense on his back (Kansas City, where he attempted 61 passes and threw four interceptions). The team has tried to work around him (Dallas, where the team lost by 33 and Blake attempted just 26 attempts). Heck, the team has even tried to bench him (last week in a 20-7 loss to Houston).
The offense has been crushed by the weight placed on Bortles' right arm. If this young, talented roster is going to reach their potential, the Jaguars will need to replace Blake Bortles with a competent starting quarterback. Who are their options for 2019?
If the Jaguars want to chase a free agency signal caller, their options are...limited. QB Teddy Bridgewater is probably the most high profile free agent, but the team had a reasonable crack at Bridgewater in the summer and passed. Some of the other prominent free agent quarterbacks in 2019:
- Tyrod Taylor (30 years old)
- Josh McCown (40 years old)
- Matt Schaub (38 years old)
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (36 years old)
So yeah, that's not going to happen. Unless, of course, an unexpected name hits the market. Teams in the sunshine state could possibly provide fresh blood to the market if the season thus far is any indication.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up Jameis Winston's 5th-year option for 2019, a figure worth $21M. The Miami Dolphins are poised to pay 30-year old QB Ryan Tannehill $51.5M+ in the next two seasons.
But each team has floundered in recent weeks and each passer has significant questions...and a feasible out of the money owed. Tampa Bay has stood behind Winston for his maligned off the field issues for years. But now the on the field product has sagged as well. Heck, just this afternoon Winston was pulled after four interceptions, only to see Ryan Fitzpatrick shine in relief.
Oh, and Winston's 2019 5th-year option is non-guaranteed for a team that may be replacing an entire coaching staff if the team doesn't find life in the final two months.
In Miami, Tannehill has been hampered by injuries for the third straight season. Ryan has missed 20 of the team's last 24 games and now he's dealing with a throwing shoulder injury. The Dolphins' coaching staff is going to be under fire as well this season and may deem the $13M in cap relief is worth the $13M in dead cap required to cut their losses with this mega-contract.
Either Winston or Tannehill would benefit greatly from the presence of a strong team identity based in ground and pound football. Either would also be young enough to hold the position through their current Super Bowl window.
The Jaguars can't afford to wait three years for a rookie passer like Drew Lock to develop. So the best case scenario for Jacksonville in the Draft? Replacing Blake Bortles is reliant on either A. drafting above the Giants (not likely) or B. pray like hell both top passers come out.
The draft doesn't offer a lot of clear solutions for the Jaguars in 2019. Regardless, they should be investing a 2019 mid-round selection into a passer.
Buckle in, Duval. You've got a hell of a team, your 3-5 record be damned. But you've got a big time dud under center and your team isn't going anywhere until that changes.
The 2017 AFC Playoffs run was admirable. Yet go back and re-watch those games and one thing is apparent: this team won in spite of Bortles. And when the team absolutely, positively needed Blake Bortles to make things happen, the team came up empty. Without the devotion to the ground game, Bortles has fizzled and regressed back to the player that he showed to be for his first three seasons in the league.
To quote the late Denny Green? "He is who we thought he was." And that's just not good enough.