Last Sunday’s loss to the Texans capped a 6-10 season for the Jaguars–a campaign that ranks as the team’s most disappointing. It’s part of the modern NFL game, then, that at the end of a such a dispiriting campaign, heads are bound to roll. And while some personnel questions remain—Will the team resign expensive big-money vets like Calais Campbell? Will they deal coveted playmakers like Jalen Ramsey for picks? Cut ties with members of the coaching staff, including top-dog Doug Marrone?—at least one staff change is eminent. Multiple outlets are reporting, with a high level of certainty, that the Jags plan to cut fifth year QB, Blake Bortles.
The former UCF standout’s tenure with the Jags has been nothing if not entertaining. (OK, it’s also been maddening.) When Jacksonville took Bortles with the third pick of the 2014 draft, many hoped that with his combination of size, athletic ability, and apparent moxie, the Florida-native would be a kind of Ben Roethlisberger-Brett Favre hybrid, able to inspire his teammates through his toughness and will them to victory with that hard-to-define gunslinger’s mentality. And while there were flashes—mental, record-breaking numbers in his second year; a mistake-free 2018 playoff campaign that put the Jags a few plays away from a Super Bowl berth—what Jacksonville ultimately got from Bortles was an amalgamation of the QB Ghosts of Jags past. At his very best, Bortles was Mark Brunell; efficient and gutsy. At his worst, he was Blaine Gabbert; indecisive, mistake-prone. Ironically, as good as the Jags defense is, if Bortles could have simply been David Garrard—a game manager who avoids costly turnovers—he’d most certainly have been invited back next year.
Still, there was much to love about Bortles’s time in Jacksonville. He had an everyman quality that endeared him to fans and teammates, alike. And his aforementioned playoff performance will not soon be forgotten.
As we prepare to bid Bortles adieu, here’s a recap of our fave moments of the QB’s time in the 904.
“Rippin’ Cigs”: A revealing-ish interview with Barstool Sports
This quite awkward 2015 interview conducted by Barstool Sports’ Sophie Julia lit the Internet on fire for a time. But it wasn’t for the uncomfortable sexual tension, or Bortles’s immense pit sweat. The money line came when Julia asked the then-23-year 0ld what he’d be doing if he wasn’t playing football in the NFL. The answer, “probably working construction and rippin’ cigs” is revealing in that A) Bortles’s combo of alternate life goals is strange in that one is a job (a vague one, but OK) and the other is just an unhealthy vice–not exactly enough to fill a non-football life–and B) such honest candor is illustrative of why much of the 904’s blue-collar population wanted only the best for young Blake.
Bortles: Citizen Crime-Stopper
Last off-season Bortles made headlines when he apprehended a would-be truck thief during a party at teammate Brandon Linder’s home. While not exactly hailed as a hero after making his citizens arrest, Bortles’s exploits did prompt Yahoo Sports to wonder, “Has Tom Brady ever stopped a truck thief?”
Blake Bortles stops man trying to steal his truck, wallet at team party in Jacksonville Beach: https://t.co/lgk80zFsMF
Has Tom Brady ever stopped a truck thief? 🤔 https://t.co/E0kv8XgmYz
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) May 10, 2018
A Flawless Performance in AFC Championship Rematch
After coming within a first down (or a Myles Jack Wasn’t Down) of the Super Bowl in the previous season, the Jags hosted the Pats in week 2. Bortles flawless 4-TD performance in Jacksonville’s rout of New England put the team, momentarily, at the top of virtually every sports media outlet’s power rankings. We don’t need to delve into what happened in the weeks that followed. Just revel in Bortles at his best, below.
Bortles Gives the Boot
What does a blue-collar, cig-ripping, construction worker-wannabe do after toting the tater into the end zone against a division rival? He F’n punts the GD football into the stands! Moxie, plain and simple.
Blake Bortles will do it himself…
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2016
Bortles opens up to Void Mag
After the team’s unlikely run to the AFC Championship last season, Bortles was enjoying some much deserved R&R near his Jax Beach home, when my predecessor here at Void spotted the QB at the cafe near our headquarters. What followed was a candid, wide-ranging interview that made national headlines, including a piece on Deadspin carrying the header “Blake Bortles says He’s No longer a Beach Bar Bro, But Remains a Fan of Beer.” On behalf of everyone at Void, you’re welcome for the click-bait. Read Zach Sweat’s interview, here.
“I’m Back” (for now)
If you’re wondering how his teammates could rally around him, despite his erratic play, well look no further than Bortles’s disposition after entering late in the game in Miami two weeks ago. Bortles, if you recall was benched in the weeks prior, in favor of backup Cody Kessler. The offense was even more anemic in the games that followed, so, as they looked for a spark in a tight game, Bortles was re-inserted as the signal caller. After entering the huddle, according to receiver Dede Westbrook, Bortles deadpanned, “Let’s go boys, I’m back,” before leading the offense on what would be the a game-deciding scoring drive. Vintage Bortles, to be sure! But his answer when asked whether he expected to start the following week, might be even better.
“I don’t know. I just work here,” he told reporters.
While you still do, Blake, we at Void salute you!