If Thursday was the last time for, oh, at least a month, then it was pretty darned fun, Blake.
Bortles started and played three offensive series in Thursday's preseason loss to the Atlanta Falcons and got beat up in the first two of them. Bortles' second-team offensive line was manhandled by the Falcons' first-team defensive front, taking two sacks and a third hit that affected his throw.
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But Bortles was unfazed. He stepped up in the third drive, stared down the gun barrel amid a collapsing pocket and delivered a strike nearly 50 yards in the air (off his back foot, mind you) to Marqise Lee, splitting the Falcons safeties in the process, for a 57-yard touchdown pass.
With a dropped pass by tight end Brandon Barden, Bortles finished the game 4-for-6 passing for 86 yards and a touchdown. Through four preseason games, Bortles completed 34-of-53 passes for 521 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Bortles has impressed with his calm amid pressure, ability to throw on the move and command of the passing game. He looked like a third-year pro when I saw him in person a few weeks ago.
But Chad Henne is starting. He, too, has played well in the preseason. But Bortles is tantalizing. How long can Gus Bradley and Jedd Fisch keep him shackled?
Bortles and the Jaguars have looked good, and I'll be interested to see how not just Henne will do out of the chute, but also the defense and the complementary parts on offense. Why? Well, if everything else looks solid and the Jags are, say, 2-3 through a tough opening five-game stretch, the coaches might realize that they could be way ahead of schedule and ready to compete in the uneven AFC South this season.
Yes, this season. And maybe with Bortles.
He'll be put on ice for a bit, and Bortles still has barely had any run with the first-team offense. But we can't wait to see what he'll do when he gets his chance.
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