Will Blake Bortles ever be able to avoid turnovers? Does he have some sort of problem processing the whole play in crunch time? After all, pressure mounts, the Jags QB’s decision-making only gets worse. And why does he throw against his body?
These were my questions coming into Sunday’s game. I had started to call him Blaine in conversation. And I had almost stopped, until his end-zone interception at the four-minute mark of fourth quarter.
I probably should stop again.
Harsh? Maybe. Not compared to the CBS announcer who mused aloud about how long the Jags could stay with Bortles this year — as if another round of Chad Henne would fix everything. But whereas the Times-Union said Bortles “regressed” in Cincinnati, the Jags offense in fact looked better than it ever had before this year.
Denard Robinson’s early run for 38 yards was one of those plays that can open up the whole offense. Toby Gerhart looked solid from the get-go, too. The Jags did play it safe in first half, as usual, to their detriment: They racked up a mere 34 passing yards.
Down 19-3 in the third, Bortles went deep to Allen Hurns — where was this derring-do early on? The playbook is buttoned up until garbage time approaches. This mode works with teams that have personnel advantages. The Jags, however, have to create and exploit mismatches to win.
When they go deep, especially to Hurns, good things happen. Hurns was the star of the game, making every catch, fulfilling every bit of the potential he flashed in the season opener. The Jags were in the game, looking credible, and Allen Hurns was the X-factor.
The turning point: The Jags were within three when Bengals backup running back Jeremy Hill took it to the house. Safety Josh Evans was hurt on a play where no one in Jags secondary really wanted to tackle Hill, least of all Evans. That should have been it, but Bortles had one more drive.
Then came the seemingly inevitable pick in the end zone.
The Jags are improving. They covered. But 1-8 is headed toward Mularkey territory. Neither Tom Coughlin nor JDR were ever that bad, and both dealt with some of the worst roster talent in the league, especially Coughlin at the end.
The Jags take this show to London to face a very beatable Cowboys team, whose defense has been exposed since Tony Romo was curb-stomped by a Washington defender two weeks ago. Does this team have what it takes to put a few wins together? The novelty of the pools, the scoreboard and the stud rookie QB has worn off; it’s results time. The Cowboys game is a must win.