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Everything wrong with the state of NFL scouting was on full display in this game. You watched two of the worst QBs in the NFL facing each other (everyone now agrees with me on one of them, and the other…some are thinking I’m nuts still). The wonderful thing for Jameis Winston (21-29 for 196 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) is that Blake Bortles (8-13 for 65 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) is now so godawful that it makes Winston look like Joe Montana in the same game watch.
It’s really fun watching two guys throw to the same WR over and over again. You don’t even need a quarterback for these two teams – just get anyone you can find to stare down Allen Robinson (5-40-0/10) or Mike Evans (5-57-0/6) and then throw it to them blindly and pray they make a play. That’s basically these two passing games in a nutshell. How anyone can have watched these two QBs in their NFL careers at not questioned their skills right away and to this day is beyond me. Bortles’s image is coming apart…but Winston is as being propped up like a political candidate being pushed by a fawning media who loves said candidate – and they will say anything if they have to in order to protect the candidate’s image…which is also protecting their investment from their own selves looking foolish. We spent 3-4 months hearing from these same people about how silly Mitchell Trubisky was a prospect/trade-up pick for Chicago…that brilliant theory lasted one whole preseason game. Let’s just say their QB scouting leaves a lot to be desired.
The Blake Bortles era is coming to an end very, very soon — and it was in your face if you watched this game as presented by ESPN. I guarantee that Bortles will be done by mid-season…but after listening to Jon Gruden, last night, I would guarantee Bortles doesn’t make it to opening day. In fact, I’d bet it on it now.
Typically, the media covers for the young QBs they’ve ordained (see: Winston, Carson Wentz, and used to with Bortles) with discussions of ‘lack of protection’, ‘weapons’, ‘scheme’, ‘new O-C’, ‘visiting Tom House over the summer’…whatever excuse you’ll buy; whatever buys them time. Jon Gruden took the gloves off on Bortles in this game…and it was purposeful, not random.
There was no reason for Gruden to attack so hard (for a usually fawning media), but Gruden did so from the pregame through the entire game — he was, for the football media, relentless. Gruden basically called for Bortles to be benched and replaced by Chad Henne before the game started…he mentioned the same in-game maybe 3-4 times. Each time showing exhausted disgust for Bortles and creating scenarios of how good it would be for ‘the young man’ to sit and observe.
When the media pulls their backing/protection it then goes nasty for the player. Bortles has once again embarrassed the entire NFL scouting community…and now he’s going to pay. They are going to make up for ordaining him as the next Roethlisberger by denigrating him with impunity on the way out the door. In addition, I don’t think Gruden dreamed this up or felt obliged to educate the public…I think the Jags are prepping you for a change that’s coming. The Jags are purposefully setting up the media for a change. They have floated the rumors and trial balloons — and ESPN signed up to help do the dirty work last night.
Tom Coughlin was interviewed pregame, and asked about Bortles – very little support…just polite/stern speak equaling ‘he has to be better‘. Normally, there were knee-jerk defenses of Bortles flaws for years…no more.
The QB change has been made by the Jags…they just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. It’s coming…very soon.
Coming into this game, I would have said Bortles NOT starting Week 1 would have been 20% chance. After listening to Gruden and seeing the way stories are being reported on Bortles the last 24 hours …a the hit pieces – he’s done. I’d say 90%+ likely Bortles is benched to start the season. If not opening day, then by Week 3-4-5. Like Mike Glennon, Blake Bortles is done and all that remains is for someone to pull the trigger because the hit has been called for and the loaded gun has been pointed. How long are we going to have to wait for the finger to pull? Not long in this instance.
This is critical information for fantasy because whatever you’re paying for or hoping for from Allen Robinson is likely to take a minor dive. Blake Bortles literally threw every pass to Robinson in this game at one point. He doesn’t even try to hide it four years into the NFL. He drops back, staring at Robinson all the way and throwing no matter the coverage. It’s an embarrassment. The one NFL year Bortles got lucky with output – mostly all 4th-quarter, garbage-time Hail Mary’s to Allen Robinson that connected a bunch…and then didn’t work as well last year (as I said as it happened, while the masses fell in love with the great Bortles). All that is going away for ARob with Bortles…as Blake hits the bench.
Leonard Fournette’s stock rises with a QB change to – he needs to get into scoring position to hammer home juicy six-pointers. Bortles takes that away. The Jags DST is aided by more sustained drives instead of three-and-out Bortles.
Chad Henne (6-10 for 44 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) entered the game and everything changed…the tempo and effectiveness immediately increased (and Henne isn’t anything special either). Henne led a drive right before the half and where he threw back-to-back TD passes to WRs who both dropped them…wide-open, perfectly placed, the same route – both dropped (one kinda knocked out of their hands soon after the catch). Also, the same on each throw – both WRs burned the great Vernon Hargreaveswith the simplest of moves to the inside and into the end zone. The drive ended with a missed FG (a theme of the night).
After Henne, the most talented QB on either roster entered the game – Brandon Allen (10-15 for 144 yards, 1 TD/0 INT). He instantly led a TD drive and led two more scoring efforts – one thwarted in the red zone and another the final gasp to score at the end. Allen has NFL starting QB skills, but will likely never get the chance.
Or will he?
There is so much QB talk leaking out of Jacksonville, anti-Bortles stuff…I wouldn’t be shocked if they traded Bortles in the next week or two – just cut their losses and went with a Henne-Allen duo. That’s what I would do as a first move. Those two guys are so clearly better than Bortles it’s frustrating to watch week-after-year. Some sucker team (Hello! NY Jets) will take Bortles off their hands for a 2nd-round pick…because ‘draft status’ rules and they ALL had Bortles as a star in the NFL entering the league, so they think ‘coaching’ will fix him. Sorry, it’s just bad scouting. He never should have been a top pick or an NFL starter…no more than Josh Freeman was for Tampa.
Henne is OK, experienced, but Allen is the talent – if the Jags go with Henne-Allen…it’s only a matter of time before Allen gets his shot one way or the other. Give that guy a shot and it’s Kirk Cousins(esque) time.
Speaking of Josh Freeman/bad Tampa QBs… Jameis Winston had his typical night of throwing to Mike Evans a lot, while throwing several bubble screen type passes when he ran into some trouble, and topping off his performance (nearly) with a real doozy – a red zone play, about to get sacked, and deciding to throw the ball towards the end zone while falling backwards…like he was halfway into a ‘trust fall’ and tried to throw a pass into the middle of the end zone – a pass which was easily intercepted. I thought Dirk Koetter was going to lose his mind, but it’s Jameis Winston so ‘no big deal’. Winston is under no pressure whatsoever. He’s bigger than the coach and he knows it. The INT ended up getting reversed to ‘down by contact’ because he was falling backwards…which was nonsense. Regardless, it was another typical night of mediocrity from Winston…shined up as ‘impressive’ by the analysts. Mike Evans could be the top FF WR for years as the Winston monarchy rules Tampa for years to come…aided and abetted by a media that is doing all the puff pieces they can right now to make Winston the face of the league.
No Leonard Fournette in this game, but plenty of other player notes from this game…
— Speaking of things the media got wrong, T.J. Yeldon (2-20, 1-2-0/1) started and did his usual — nothing. The Jags should bundle Yeldon and Bortles as a package of mainstream scouting messes you can have for one low price.
Chris Ivory (7-4-0, 2-14-0/2) came in with TJY and looked pretty sluggish…or the Tampa run defense is that good. Corey Grant(4-13-0) and Fournette taking the lead along with a QB change could get this Jags team to the playoffs. I suddenly love my preseason over/under Jags win total bet.
— Another reason I love the Jags is because of their new attitude – Myles Jack (1 tackled) pushed as a starting ILB last week, and I’ve said he’s a disaster at ILB for 15+ months now…and after one appearance last week, Jack was sent packing back to OLB. When things are obvious, why wait to make a change because of ‘draft status’? Jack is turning into another bust – remember he was pushed as THE #1 PLAYER IN THE 2016 NFL DRAFT for a bit before he got rumored to be hurt. He’s not hurt…he just isn’t very good at football, at least not inside linebacker.
The Jags pulling the plug on Jack as an ILB and the defensive signal caller, etc. quickly is another ‘tell’ that they have the fortitude to pull the Bortles plug before September. It’s coming.
— Doug Martin (5-30-1, 2-11-0/3) looked really good in his appearance. Before you make your FF redraft moves on him please read our draft guide take on Martin’s situation the first half of 2017 season.
— O.J. Howard (2-28-0/3) had a little more time with the first-team. He caught a couple of passes and moved well after the catch. Stardom is in reach but he is on a terrible passing game to do it with. Unless he steals Mike Evans‘ jersey and wears it in-game…I don’t know that Howard will see more than 2-5 targets per game the first half of the season.
— OJH is at least running with the starters on and off. Two other Bucs rookies are in the witness protection program; buried. Along with that, I think both succumbed to those Nutrisystem for men commercials I see all day…
Jeremy McNichols (11-32-0) looks skinny and doesn’t stand out at all…and is working 3rd/4th team. He has golden hands and saw zero targets…so obviously the Bucs have no designs on pushing him as a Weeks 1-3 pass-game guy. He may be closer to the practice squad then catching a pass in Week 1.
Chris Godwin (2-30-0/5) doesn’t exist. He saw some time with Winston, but Godwin is a workhorse in the middle of traffic as a WR…and Jameis is terrible throwing between the hashes. Godwin was screwed when he landed in Tampa. He also looks thinner than normal. I might get all red and pewter clothes if it’s just the slimming effect of the Bucs’ uniforms.
My heart is starting to sink on the neat Bucs rookie trio…
— Jags rookie WR Dede Westbrook (6-131-0/7) had the big stat game for the Jags WRs, but credit Brandon Allen for much of it. Westbrook is way behind UDFA WR Keelan Cole (2-20-0/3), but Cole dropping a sure TD did not help him tonight. Cole is an interesting story and I’m going to share more study on him ahead.
— Speaking of WRs, I have seen zero connection/effort of any Winston-DJax (2-17-0/4) connection. DeSean has become second only to Sam Bradford in swindling money from stupid NFL owners. He’s currently setup bank robbery operations in Tampa. ‘Disinterested, but cashing fat checks‘ should be his trademark description. I think Percy Harvin is part of his ‘Oceans 15’ crew.
— IDPs who caught my attention…
Jags 2nd year UDFA DB Jarrod Wilson (6 tackles, 3 PD) had a really nice game. He’s got great size, is a hitter and was around the ball quite a bit. 6’1/209, 4.55 40-time, 7.00 three-cone. He’s going to make the team and be a backup, but one to watch develop or if pressed into duty due to injury in-season.
Jags rookie ILB Blair Brown (3 tackles) is a player. There was one play in this game on a 3rd and 2 just after halftime, and Brown popped into a lane and was met full speed by a physical RB Peyton Barber – it was a full human car crash…Brown standing still, essentially, and Barber full sprinting ahead. Blair absorbed Barber’s collision and didn’t budge – and then chucked him to the ground for no gain. The defensive play of the night…also better than anything Myles Jack has done in the NFL pre or regular season.