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Between the mediocre play from Chad Henne and the small sample size of hope that Blake Bortles delivered in last Sunday’s blowout loss to the Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley saw enough to hand the starting job over to his rookie.
It may only be Week 4, but Bortles is being thrown into the fire after the Jaguars had initially given the indication that their third overall pick would likely sit his rookie season to digest and learn.
But, given the “what have you done for me lately” world that we live in and the overwhelming fan support to make him the guy, the Bortles era has officially begun in Jacksonville.
Bortles, a Florida-native from Oviedo, has a lot of expectations after a stellar junior season at the University of Central Florida, where he led the Knights to their best-ever season in program history, going 12-1 and finishing with a Fiesta Bowl title over Baylor.
The Jaguars fans paid close attention to Bortles as he played in their home state of Florida. They saw as he picked apart opposing defenses and orchestrated fourth quarter comebacks against top teams like Penn State and Louisville as the Knights star QB.
Bortles has the reputation for being extremely poised in clutch moments and has been given high praise by numerous analysts for his NFL build, arm strength and overall skill set.
And the Jags fans will be expecting results after a strong opening act in the second half of last week’s loss, where Bortles ignited the offense, throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with a 59 percent completion rating and 30 yards rushing.
Sure Bortles had his faults, tossing two interceptions and not exactly leading the Jags to a miraculous comeback, but he provided the fan base with hope.
That is something that Jaguar fans have not had in a while.
Bortles and the Jaguars have a tough matchup on the road against San Diego this week, so this will be a nice litmus test to see where Bortles truly is, instead of basing it off garbage time in a blowout.
The rookie QB will have some decent weapons in Allen Hurns and Cecil Shorts III, both of whom he connected with on touchdowns in his second half performance. He will also have Allen Robinson to make up a relatively strong receiving corps, which Bortles is used to from his tenure at Central Florida.
Either way, Bortles will have to prove himself and show that he’s ready for the big leagues.
He is supposed to be the future of this franchise, so there will be plenty of expectations.
Given his track record so far, all indications are that Blake Bortles can handle it.
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