Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
No player has had more pressure on him this offseason in Jacksonville than Blake Bortles. The third overall pick has been tasked with becoming the franchise quarterback and learning everything he can from Chad Henne. Bortles got his first real opportunity to show the league why he was the first quarterback chosen and he did not disappoint.
Statistically speaking, Bortles had a very nice night, finishing 7-of-11 for 117 yards. His numbers are even more impressive when you take into consideration that three of the four incompletions were the result of dropped passes. He also had two completions, totaling 21 yards, negated because of offensive pass interference, one of which was questionable.
However, to fully appreciate just how well Bortles played, you have to go beyond the stats. Bortles showed good pocket awareness, timing of his throws and accuracy. He allowed the routes to develop and went through his progressions. Also, he wasn't afraid to throw down the field, resulting in completions of 24 and 31 yards.
For most of his time on the field, the Jaguars gave him pretty solid protection. On the few occasions they did let someone through, Bortles didn't panic, something Jaguars fans became too accustomed to with Blaine Gabbert under center. Bortles knew when to take a sack and when to push the play. He made a great completion to Kerry Taylor for 16 yards despite a defender hitting him as he threw.
What was really impressive was his awareness of the timing routes. For instance, near the end of the first half, the Jaguars set at the line in the I-Formation with Allen Hurns aligned wide to the left and Mike Harris aligned wide to the right. Harris came in motion then ran a curl route. Bortles followed him the whole way then quickly snapped his hips and hit Hurns 19 yards downfield on a skinny post route. Aside from the throw being a little low, the execution was flawless.
All of this being said, let's not get too ahead of ourselves. It is just one game, and Bortles faced the second-team defense. However, there is definitely reason to be excited since Bortles did exactly what he was supposed to do; he outplayed his competition. He looked natural on the field and even Mark Brunell, who was calling the game, said he looked like "a six-year veteran". If it was possible, expectations will be even higher for Bortles now.