Sunday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Kansas City Chiefs matchup looked like a classic meeting of strength vs. strength – the Chiefs’ high-powered offense against the Jaguars’ stingy defense.
But it didn’t exactly play out that way. Not because the Jaguars’ defense didn’t show up – it largely did – but because Jacksonville’s quarterback is too often a liability, and the team may be wasting arguably the league’s best defense with a mistake-prone QB.
Blake Bortles throws 4 interceptions in loss
After his play last postseason, when Bortles did the minimum he couldn’t and didn’t blow it for Jacksonville in close wins against Buffalo and the Steelers, and even in the AFC title game against New England, the 2014 first-round draft pick entered this season with many believing – hoping? – he’d turned a corner.
But through now five weeks this season, Bortles has shown that he’s still a front-runner and not capable of bringing his team back when it’s behind.
The Jaguars were down just 10-0 in Kansas City with 4:30 to play when Tashaun Gipson intercepted Patrick Mahomes, the first time this season the first-year starter sensation has been picked, and giving the Jaguars’ offense the ball in Kansas City territory.
But on the very next play, Bortles was strip-sacked by Dee Ford and the Chiefs recovered. They turned the turnover into a field goal.
When Bortles got the ball back, his first snap of the possession was a pass attempt that became a pick-six by Kansas City’s Chris Jones.
At 20-0 Chiefs, it was basically game over.
Bortles was intercepted again with seconds to go in the first half and the Jaguars facing a goal-to-go situation, one that was picked after Bortles threw it off one of his teammate’s helmet. No, really.
He had two more in the second half.
Jaguars defense wasted?
Jacksonville came into the game with the Chiefs No. 1 in the league in points allowed, No. 1 in total yards allowed and No. 1 in passing yards allowed. The team has certainly drafted well, but spent well too, on players like Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson and A.J. Bouye.
When your defense is that dominant, it’s the job of the quarterback to not blow it. He usually doesn’t have to get 20 or more points, but he can’t give away games either. And for Jacksonville, asking for Bortles to stage a comeback is apparently too much.
Last year, as the Jaguars won 10 games, Bortles had just one fourth-quarter comeback, and it wasn’t for lack of opportunity: three of Jacksonville’s regular-season losses were by a touchdown or less. He brought the Jaguars back to tie the Jets in Week 4, but had the ball three times in overtime and couldn’t get his team even into field goal range; the Jets won the game with a field goal late in OT.
Career day, not in a good way
Bortles had a career passing day, mostly because he didn’t have Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars were down the entire game: his 61 attempts and 430 yards were both career highs, and his 33 completions tied his single-game best.
But his four interceptions were also the most he’s had in a single game.
Not surprisingly, the Jaguars are 1-4 in games where Bortles has three or more picks.
Bortles is in the final year of his rookie contract.
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