Blake Bortles is the main factor in the Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 outlook

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to improve in several areas to compete for the playoffs next year, but they aren’t going anywhere without better play from Blake Bortles.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are at home this weekend watching the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots face off for the crown of best in the NFL. The Jaguars haven’t even sniffed the postseason in almost a decade so hoping for them to make it all the way to the Super Bowl next year feels a bit greedy.

For them to ascend to the playoffs at all, they need Blake Bortles to become what several thought he would be before his disastrous 2016 season. The Jaguars braintrust clearly thinks this is a possibility given the course of action they’ve taken to keep most of his support and coaching staff intact.

This isn’t an illogical notion, but it is somewhat laughable at least from the perspective of most of the national media. Gregg Rosenthal over at NFL.com looked at what each team can do to make the Super Bowl next year, and for the Jaguars he concluded they just need to pray Bortles isn’t bad.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Pray that magical thinking in Blake Bortles pays off.

Jacksonville’s steadfast belief in Bortles is one of the most surprising early developments of the 2017 offseason. The team retained coach Doug Marrone in part because of Bortles’ improved play under the interim boss in two meaningless games. General manager Dave Caldwell said recently the Jaguars “can win a Super Bowl” with Bortles at the helm. Caldwell and Marrone’s future are tied to being right in this magical thinking following Bortles’ disastrous 2016 campaign. This attitude sounds more like hope than strategy, but it’s what the Jaguars are rolling with.

I’ll roll with this for a bit – the Jaguars have no hope of making the Super Bowl next year without competent quarterback play. They don’t have a dominant defense and they don’t have any other transcendent talent on offense to counteract bad quarterback play. Following that train of thought, the most likely candidate for getting decent QB play is Blake Bortles. Can he be what he was in 2015? Is that enough?

In all likelihood, Bortles has to be even better than he was in 2015, or at least more protective of the ball. His turnovers and inability to keep the offense on the field at critical times killed the Jaguars this year.

Going back to the bigger point of the article however, this isn’t exactly an insightful observation. There are plenty of other things the Jaguars can do to help their Super Bowl chances (find another pass rusher, improve the offensive line, find a reliable running back, get another playmaker in the secondary) – saying they need their quarterback to not suck should go without saying.

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