For a guy who helped his team to 11 wins, a division title, its first playoff appearance since 2007 – and a playoff win – Blake Bortles doesn’t get a lot of respect.
Some of that disrespect is fair. After all, the Jaguars relied on a dominant defense and Leonard Fournette in the lion’s share of their games. Still, Bortles threw for 21 touchdowns and a career-low 13 interceptions this season. He also had a career-high 88 rushing yards in Jacksonville’s 10-3 Wild Card win over Buffalo.
Will Bortles be the Jaguars’ starting quarterback next season?
“It depends on this game,” NFL on CBS analyst Nate Burleson said on The DA Show, referring to Jacksonville’s Sunday showdown with the Steelers. “Blake Bortles’ future in Jacksonville depends on this game. If he goes out there and he plays the game of his life, they’ll keep him and they’ll figure out a way to find more consistency in their quarterback. If he goes out there and lays an egg and he looks like a second-tier, third-tier quarterback, yeah, of course they’ll look elsewhere. Why wouldn’t they? Especially with the price tag hanging over his head? That’s the beauty of this sport. That’s the beauty of this game. They beat up on a team in the regular season and all of a sudden we’re talking about the Jaguars like they got whooped on. Blake Bortles is hearing everybody in the world talking about how trash he is. He understands what’s at stake. This is the postseason.”
Jacksonville beat the Steelers, 30-9, in Pittsburgh in Week 5, but Bortles didn’t have much of an impact on the final score. Fournette rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense picked off Ben Roethlisberger five times, returning two of those picks to the house.
Bortles? He threw for 95 yards and an interception.
He’ll need to be much better this Sunday.
But if he is? The job is likely his.
“If he does that this game, if he can go out up against the Steelers – who seem the Goliath – then he can put himself in a position to walk into Jacksonville and say, ‘Do you want me? Or nah?’” Burleson explained. “And if they say, ‘Nah,’ he can go elsewhere and get paid. That’s the beauty of the postseason. He can play a game so good we’ll forget about how quote-unquote trash he’s been.”
Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. ET.