NFL front office types seem to love touting their quarterbacks, particularly when they’re young.
And why not? It makes you look confident in that one personnel decision that’s cherished above all others: selecting the leader of your team and essentially the face of your franchise.
But when you make lofty assertions that are refuted by mountains of statistical evidence, like Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell is about quarterback Blake Bortles, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, it can make you look a bit silly.
“I’ve said this time and time again,” Caldwell said this week at practice for this weekend’s Senior Bowl. “I think we can win a Super Bowl with Blake. I think he needs to improve and I think we need to improve around him, too, in order for that to happen.”
Improve, indeed. There are a multitude of stats that show what a vast understatement that is, and here’s a few: In three years at the helm, Bortles’ interception to touchdown ratio, 69 touchdowns to 51 interceptions, is one of the league’s worst. His totals as a rookie, 11 TDs, 17 INTs, obviously skew those numbers a little, but his total number of picks have hovered around the same number for all three of his seasons in the league: 17, 18, and 16, respectively.
His completion percentage has also remained virtually unchanged. In 2014, he completed 58.9 percent of his passes, in 2015, 58.6 and 58.9 last season.
Another alarming statistic is the number of pick-sixes (11) Bortles has thrown in his career is the same as the number of wins he’s posted (11).
And perhaps this season’s most telling stat is Bortles 49.2 QBR, the league’s third worst behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum. Incredibly, that’s the highest QBR of his career.
None of it, however, seems to have enlightened Caldwell one bit. He insists Bortles is on the cusp of a breakout year.
“I think the future is bright for him,” he continued. “I have a lot of confidence in him. I know he has the makeup in terms of intelligence, competitiveness, his hard work, his effort, so if he has those things I think the rest of it will come.”
We’ll call it wishful thinking, because after former head coach Gus Bradley’s recent ouster as well as Tom Coughlin’s recent front-office hire, next season might just be Caldwell’s last gasp.