The narrative from this game seems to be universal – “Hey, look…how did these two teams get into the playoffs? Ha! They suck. A 10-3 game with less than 230 yards passing total in nice weather. Figures…because these teams blow.” That’s the general vibe.
Everyone expected the Jags to win and they pulled it out…but looked terrible doing so. They definitely didn’t change any minds that were thinking the Jags being in the playoffs is a joke.
If you watched the game, you likely walked away thinking the Jags are pathetic as well. I can’t say I’d disagree. There is one thing to consider in the midst of this – 10-3 final score abominations are exactly how the Jaguars can win games. Other playoff team’s secret powers are ‘the QB’ or the ‘offensive efficiency’. We can identify those teams. We say, ‘Never bet against Brady’ not ‘Never bet against Ramsey-Bouye in the defensive secondary for the Jags’.
It’s going to be hard to beat the Jaguars if you only score three points. The Jags don’t have to win pretty…they just have to win.
On the other hand… I’m not sure the Jags can score three points and it’s their own problem and it was fixable months ago and the Jacksonville organization turned a blind eye to it and it’s coming back to haunt them. One player will have prevented the Jags from winning this Super Bowl…from making a miraculous turn in one year, they almost had it but they blew it. Maybe…probably.
And that one person is…
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- You guessed it – the problem is Blake Bortles (12-23 for 87 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 10-88-0).
I get that it's what the cool kids do – make fun of Blake Bortles. Let us not forget – this was the top guy for all scouts and football analysts and writers a few years ago (except for us shouting from the hilltops to whoever would listen). He was a no brainer for the mainstream scouts -- the next Ben Roethlisberger. These are the same people passionately debating and pushing Sam Darnold v. Josh Rosen today (spoiler alert – they’re going to get burned again).
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a worse NFL performance from a non-rookie QB in my entire life than what Blake Bortles just gave us this past Sunday. It was so bad it took my breath away. It made me yell at the TV screen, and I usually have no emotion about NFL games, playoff or otherwise...even if I bet the game heavy.
I think many of you saw what I saw with Bortles in this game. Some of the commentators were weaving their way into to it too…but they are paid not to go too far with the negatives. Anyone could see it – Blake Bortles is a scared quarterback who shouldn’t even have an NFL uniform. He’s not simply ‘a weak NFL starting QB’. He’s not even a ‘backup’ QB talent. He’s a colossal disaster. He was so afraid to throw the football in this game that he just stopped throwing it and ignored wide open receivers and just ran the ball instead…like a fool.
This game began with Bortles misfiring to receivers over and over again. Then it moved to Bortles starting to run more…and more. You thought it was opportunistic…and then it became obvious he was just scared. Tony Romo kinda pointed it out in-game and then backed off. I think it was Boomer Esiason, on the half-time show, that said something to the effect of “Let’s not mince words…Blake Bortles is playing awful.” The other talking heads bristled at the strength of the statement, but I think they all knew…they are just in trouble of losing a sweet paycheck if they get too honest, too negative. Best to dial it down and protect the shield.
The Jaguars did nothing this offseason to address this problem. The new regime came in, sized up the situation…felt they were good and on they rolled. They either don’t know anything about evaluating QBs, which is pretty much standard fare…and/or they don’t really care about the QB play because they aren’t looking for playmakers – they are looking for ‘do what I said/run the play I called/don’t throw an INT’ QBs…and I’m sure Blake gives them all the “Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir” they want.
I think I read a story where the Jags are leaning towards signing Bortles to a $15M+ option year next season. Shocker.
How any Jaguars coach or anyone from management can see Blake Bortles play for the last 24+ months or 24+ hours and not be incensed and panicked, I have no idea. But welcome to the Jaguars…welcome to 90%+ of the NFL decision making logic.
This is why I have no problem standing by our radically different scouting grades on players year after year. I know we’re not always right – I just know we’re more right than they are, and a lot of time our ‘wrong’ is because the prospect never got a real chance.
Blake Bortles has taken a job away from countless other QBs who could be so much better. Bortles gets the job…all the #1 reps…the playbook built to suit his delicate needs. Brandon Allen, their 6th-round draft pick in 2016/#3 QB this preseason, and five-times the QB talent that Bortles is…he was cut and is a forgotten backup in Los Angeles (Rams). Allen will never get a real opportunity unless his team’s #1 and #2 QBs get struck by a bolt of lightning simultaneously…i.e. the Kurt Warner story. NFL teams are dictating their demise with bad quarterbacks…it’s not forced on them. The Jags could have gotten rid of or replaced Bortles for two years now.
If the Jaguars finally do get religion and dismiss Bortles in a few months…do you trust this group to be able to replace him any better?
***College Football Metrics is opening up soon – NFL Draft Scouting Reports, Dynasty Rookie Draft rankings, including IDP…it’s all happening Mid-January. Stay tuned.***
-- If this Jags management team is capable of sticking by Bortles, or replacing Bortles…probably with another Bortles – why should we get excited by any of the Jacksonville wide receivers for fantasy 2018+?
Keelan Cole (0-0-0/1) has outplayed Dede Westbrook (5-48-0/8) since day-one of the 2017 preseason. And here in this critical game…Westbrook 8 targets, Cole 1…Lee 1, Hurns 1. I know Cole is better than Westbrook…the Jaguars don’t.
An asteroid will have to fall to earth, hit Jacksonville during a team practice and wipe out Robinson-Lee-Hurns-Westbrook in order for Cole to get a proper push. In other words, about a 1% chance we’ll see Cole thrive in Jacksonville.
If Allen Robinson were smart, he’d bail on re-signing with the Jags and go to a team with real offensive minds in 2018. He could be a DeAndre Hopkins with a real QB/offense, and he has a season under his belt where he was better than Hopkins. Robinson will walk and the Jags will re-sign Marqise Lee (because he went to USC, and that’s meaningful) and it will make no sense since Westbrook and Cole could do what Lee does for 10% of the price…but it won’t matter. Dogs bark. Bees Buzz. Jacksonville sticks by failing offensive things.
-- It really makes me wonder how much I want to invest in Leonard Fournette (21-57-0, 3-21-0/5) for fantasy. I love the talent, but he’s stuck here. 11-man boxes. No passing game. Suspended a game for missing a team photo. Not playing in key spots off and on because failing T.J. Yeldon had to happen occasionally because had that one long play that one time (and Corey Grant can’t get work in the passing game despite being 10x times more dangerous than Yeldon).
Doug Marrone has lost his mind…but you tell him he’s wrong as he just won the AFC South and is in the Final 8? Marrone is only more emboldened now.
-- Credit to Sean McDermott… He runs about as sad sack an offense as the Jags do, but he realizes LeSean McCoy (19-75-0, 6-44-0/8) is his only hope so he rides him for everything he can get. He doesn’t remove McCoy in passing situations or entire 4th quarters…like Marrone does with Fournette.
Nothing but respect for McCoy – getting back healthy enough to work in this game and be a factor and almost helped get the upset. Did you know he’s going to be 30+ years old for 2018 season…2,200+ carries and nine years of play on those wheels going into 2018?
-- McCoy could run into problems in 2018 because of who the Bills will go with at QB.
Do you remember there was a time where the Bills were playing well this season and headed to a wild card, easily, and then Stone Cold Sean McDermott preemptively benched Tyrod Taylor, one of the most efficient (but mediocre) QBs in NFL history, for rookie Nathan Peterman?
I heard Peterman’s last name being used as a joke on CNBC today. Stock analysts were comparing a (bad) stock to Nathan Peterman. McDermott made that happen…probably ruined the kid’s career.
Sean McDermott will be in charge of finding the team’s next QB. You trust him? Hell, they’ll probably sign Bortles for 5 years/$100 million away from the Jags, as the Jags ink Tyrod Taylor for 3 years/$50 million.
For fantasy, you should probably take all the Bills and Jags WRs and pour gasoline on them and throw a match on top.
But these two teams will have good DSTs, though!
-- Just to put a bow on this game…
Deonte Thompson and Dede Westbrook led their teams in targets among the WRs.
Blake Bortles rushed for more yards than either McCoy or Fournette.
Nick O’Leary had more targets than Charles Clay.
Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, and Keelan Cole each had exactly 1 target and 0 catches.
Former Arizona Cardinals franchise QB (because NFL teams scout QBs so well, as I mentioned) now tight end Logan Thomas had more targets than Lee or Hurns or Cole.
Nathan Peterman needed to save the game late…and threw an INT to end it. His 5th INT in 49 passes this season. He was the darling QB prospect pick of Mike Mayock and friends covering last year’s Senior Bowl.
You can get our Senior Bowl coverage coming up in a few weeks at College Football Metrics.com.
Snap Counts of Interest…
36 = Westbrook
36 = Lee
32 = Cole
31 = Hurns
65 = Deonte Thompson
64 = Kelvin Benjamin
54 = Zay Jones
46 = Nick O’Leary
37 = Charles Clay
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