There may be no player more heavily criticized over the past couple of seasons than Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback Blake Bortles. Since entering the NFL in 2014 as the third overall pick, Bortles has had an up and down career to say the least. The 2017-2018 campaign, though, has seen him even more under the microscope than any season up to this point – and it’s not just the media this time. Some current and ex-players have used interviews and social media to label the fourth-year pro as “trash” or “the 70th best quarterback in the league.”
For Bortles, though, the criticism simply rolls off of him like rain on an umbrella. He continues to handle the heavy critiquing like a savvy veteran. After the Jaguars won in exciting, high-scoring fashion Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bortles was asked if he felt vindicated at all.
“I’m just happy to win,” said Bortles, according to NFL.com. “I have no animosity towards anybody who ever said anything. To be able to come here with this team, I’m happy to be able to continue to play for another week. There’s a lot of guys sitting at home on the couch wishing they could play. I know in past years, I wished I could’ve had another opportunity to keep playing.”
The hilarious part of all the criticism here, if you’re an avid football fan, is that Bortles has had a relatively successful career. Just this past season, Bortles threw 21 touchdowns to only 13 picks while throwing for over 3,600 yards. He has also established himself as more of a mobile threat as this season has gone on. 2017 saw him end the regular season with a rating of 84.7. Is that Pro Bowl caliber? Absolutely not – but, it’s good enough to win.
Everyone remembers Rex Grossman reaching a Super Bowl after leading the NFL in turnovers back in 2006. People often think of Grossman and Trent Dilfer as two of the worst – mediocre at best – quarterbacks to ever make a Super Bowl game. If those guys can do it, why wouldn’t Bortles be capable? Besides, the one thing he has going for him like the two aforementioned quarterbacks, is one phenomenal defense.
“The way our defense has played all year, there haven’t been many games where we’ve had to go back out and score again,” Bortles said of their performance against Pittsburgh. “They’ve been incredible, and this was a tough task. There are a bunch of good players on the other side of that ball. But we felt comfortable that we could put up points. Obviously, Telvin’s touchdown helped us out but I thought everybody — from the guys up front to the backs and receivers to the tight ends — there was an overall good performance offensively to continue to score and give our defense a little bit of space.”
Bortles has learned how to deal with criticism from, what seems like, day one. It sure looks like he has that down to a science. It all comes with the territory. Bortles is allowing the nay-sayers to speak what they may as his only focus is to beat the New England Patriots and reach the team’s first Super Bowl in franchise history.