What if I told you the Jacksonville Jaguars weren't the biggest idiots on the football block? That might sound like the tagline from a new ESPN "30 for 30," but really it's almost a direct quote from Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
For the first time since 2007, the Jaguars are in the playoffs. And so, before their playoff run begins against the Bills on Sunday, it's time for the Jaguars to take a brief victory lap. On Thursday, Khan reflected on the by expressing his satisfaction with the oft-maligned quarterback's performance this season.
In the process, he celebrated no longer being the "biggest idiot on the football block" and called Bortles a "nice guy," which is a nice compliment, but probably isn't the most important quality to look for in an NFL quarterback.
"Maybe we're not the biggest idiot on the football block," Khan said, per The Florida Times-Union. "When his option was picked up, it was like, 'What are these guys smoking?' But frankly, you have to stay the course but yet you have to have agility. ... The other thing with Blake, he's really a nice guy. He's from the area. He's talented. He's stayed healthy. He's not a China doll. We are invested. We want him to be successful."
It's true that Bortles has improved in his fourth season (60.2 completion percentage, 7.0 YPA, 21 touchdowns, 13 picks, and an 84.7 passer rating), but the Jaguars would be crazy -- regardless of how far their playoff run extends -- to roll into the 2018 season with Bortles as their only option at quarterback. A team with a Super Bowl-caliber defense can't afford to put their fate in the hands of a quarterback who's thrown more interceptions (64) than any other quarterback since 2014.
Did Bortles improve in 2017? Yes, and his quality of play at the beginning of December was as good of a stretch of football as you'll ever see, when he completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 903 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 128.6 passer rating in three wins. But he also closed out the year by reverting back to his former self, completing 56 percent of his passes for 540 yards, two touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 58.6 passer rating in back-to-back losses. The point being, he's still untrustworthy.
If the Jaguars are serious about competing for Super Bowls in the years to come, they should look to upgrade their quarterback position. They don't even need a top-caliber quarterback to make the leap. They just need someone more reliable than Bortles.
With that being said, the Jaguars do deserve credit for the turnaround they engineered. They averaged 3.7 wins per season from 2011-16. Now, they're. Khan's right: They're no longer the biggest idiots on the football block.
But that doesn't mean they should settle for a quarterback of Bortles' caliber. If someone like Eli Manning or Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith becomes available in the offseason, and if the price makes sense, they shouldn't hesitate to upgrade their quarterback situation and in the process boost their Super Bowl odds.
Remember: Bortles' fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury only. So, the Jaguars can still move on from him in the offseason without suffering any financial consequences.