By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The worst thing that could have happened to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday happened on Sunday.
Blake Bortles proved he could be an NFL starter.
The 27 of 39 performance for 253 yards was a pretty good start to an NFL career considering what happened in the second half of the 33-17 loss to the Chargers.
The defense lost the game, not the arm or legs of the rookie. While message board lit up, calling this a 0-16 team and a team with no heart, even one of my friends commenting on how Bortles was running for his life in the game (a little over exaggerated, in my opinion), the offense showed life and the defense collapsed when the quarterback needed it to perform most.
Pity and shameful, for a while, or at least 28 minutes of the game, the Jaguars had a fighting chance.
The defense let us down.
I find it sad that the Jaguars hired Mike Mularkey to revitalize the offense three seasons ago but got no results, so he was fired by Dave Caldwell upon his being hired. Gus Bradley was hired remake this franchise and bring an intensity to the defense he brought to Seattle.
Even with all the free agent signings, we are still waiting for “Seattle South” to happen.
We saw a young team begin Game 1 of the Blake Bortles Era. Had the defense continued to show dominance as it had at the start of the Eagles game and the start of the Chargers game and then somehow play the second half like there was tomorrow, then the Jaguars may have won on Sunday. But if someone handed me a million dollars, I would have a million dollars as well.
The offensive game plan for Bortles was new – but it worked for a half. The short passes and completions boosted his confidence and his first real lesson as a starter in this league. I watched with a bit of giddiness, hoping that if the Buccaneers could beat the Steelers and the Dolphins could throttle the Raiders in London, then why can’t these Jaguars go across the country and win in a place where they typically do not play well.
On Sunday, they played better, but they still are far away from contending. Even with a defense that is amongst the leaders in sacks, too many yards are given away and too many points are gift wrapped to their opponents. In time, maybe it gets better. But for now, we are still a winless teaming with a game-changing quarterback a running game that showed some life and fans who are still waiting for first win of the 2014 season.
It may be a while, but it may also be a little more interesting now that our rookie of the future is our rookie of the present.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The biggest comparison I see to Blake Bortles as he works within the Jaguars offense is the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger. The size, arm, speed and athletic ability are solid and at times mirror images.
Jaguars’ fans and the coaching staff can only hope the rookie behind the new offensive line is as successful in his first season as Roethlisberger was in his rookie year.
Yes, the circumstances are different.
Roethlisberger earned the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2004 and his first Pro Bowl selection in 2007. He became the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in NFL history, leading the Steelers, in only his second professional season, to a 21–10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL at the age of 23. Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a second Super Bowl title in four seasons as they defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, 27–23, after completing a game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the final 35 seconds. Roethlisberger has been one of the most efficient passers in NFL history. He currently ranks 9th all-time in NFL passer rating (92.6), 5th in yards per attempt (8.06), and 11th in completion percentage (63.24%) among quarterbacks with a minimum of 1,500 career attempts. He has the fourth highest career winning percentage (.710) as a starter in the regular season among quarterbacks with a minimum of 100 starts.
Although it was in a relief appearance last week, Bortles showed the energy this team needed in the situation. There was no way the Jaguars were going to come back and beat the Colts, but I do wonder if the score would have been different had he started the game instead of trying to be Marino Rivera. Don Strock was the master of quarterback relief. Shaun Hill was pretty good in Detroit and John Kitna was a quarterback you wanted on your sideline, just in case. Bortles is the reliever, who is now the starter for the remainder of the season. In time, he is going to be really good.
On Sunday, a rookie is going to walk out on the field in San Diego and throw his first football as a starter in the NFL (along with Teddy Bridgewater). There will be mistakes, there will be errors and most of all – regardless of the score, there will be hope.
If by some miracle, these Jaguars win in a place were winning has been so hard, then the Bortles Era will be hailed as the greatest in Jaguars’ history.
Someone said to me the other day he thought Bortles reminded him of a young Mark Brunell. While Brunell is the greatest quarterback to ever grace the field here in Jacksonville, Bortles needs to be better than Brunell. Better means more success and ore could mean the one thing Brunell could not bring to this town and these fans – a Super Bowl ring.
After 20 years, the fans here at EverBank are waiting for a Roethlisberger to bring us home a championship.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
Florida Times-Union Jaguars beat writer Ryan O’Halloran may have made the best statement of the season so far when he was asked on 1010XL and 92.5 FM, “What can the team do to fix its current issues, which include not winning?”
Simply put, he said it was OK if the team panicked.
Wow, a sports writer who admits the team is in peril and needs help across the board and gives the best solution to solving a hard trigonometry problem. I applaud your candor.
Yes, Jaguars fans, we can panic!
Even with the changes on offense with the line and the quarterback play of Blake Bortles – not to mention Cecil Shorts, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson will all be on the field in San Diego, there is no reason to believe getting a slight bit crazed has not crossed the minds of both Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell.
Being a NFL general manager can be the best job in the world - mainly because you have all the control in the world. But it could also be a nightmare because the responsibility rests squarely on your shoulders. You have also to figure this brain trust is sweating ever so slightly because the 0-3 start to the 2014 season is not what they had in mind.
If winning is contagious, then losing is an illness of its own as well. Panic mode may do wonders to fix this franchise.
The quarterback position has already been changed. It looks like Denard Robinson could get more reps with the first team and can be counted on for 15-18 touches while Toby Gerhart is still on the mend. There will be changes on the defense and more attention to tackling and coverage in the secondary. This is an organization which needs a makeover of sorts and the sand is sinking in the hourglass.
Add to the fact that Bleacher Report has already given us a loss against the Chargers out west and the deck seems to be stacked against the team before it gets on the plane.
The Jaguars announced they had made several changes to its roster and practice squad on Tuesday. The move is a constant reminder this franchise is still looking for missing puzzle pieces that can take the team to the Promised Land. But until the pieces all fit, there is no way to know is the problems can be fixed.
Panicking could be a very good thing, and another way to show the first time is not always the right time to make a football franchise a success.
The State Farm Neighborhood Fan Cave at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field had a remarkable new offering for their first NFL game of the season Sunday between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts. Powered by 3D-4U’s Twirls Media technology, fans had an opportunity to watch the game live in an Oculus Rift headset. The Oculus Rift, a Virtual Reality Headset created by Oculus VR (a company recently acquired by Facebook), is expected to capture the imagination of the masses as a next generation platform for gaming and for event viewing.
“I was amazed that I could look around while the game was being played – it was like I was right there,” said one enthusiastic fan. “Being able to control where I was looking really made it fun to watch live action and replays and follow what I wanted to see.”
The Jaguars are committed to bringing leading-edge technologies to their fans to improve overall fan experience at the stadium. Their goal is to ensure that the in-stadium experience is one that cannot be replicated anywhere else. The Oculus Rift is a tremendous addition to the game day experience in the Fan Cave -- there was great interest by fans to put on the Oculus Rift and enjoy the immersive VR experience.
“This is another example of the kind of in-stadium innovation we are bringing to the game day experience that we want to make available for our fans,” said Jaguars SVP Fan Engagement Hussain Naqi. “Not only can fans be on site to enjoy the atmosphere, they can utilize offerings like this Virtual Reality based technology to experience the game in a totally new way.”
3D-4U is a world-leader in providing a unique individualized and user-controlled futuristic viewing experience. This immersion technology gives users the feeling of actually standing on the sidelines of a football game or in the first row at a concert. Users can look around to see what interests them. 3D-4U unveiled its technology in 2012 at Washington State University. 3D-4U’s team of highly regarded Virtual Reality experts is the first to utilize its real–time 3D sports content as an immersive experience for the virtual reality headset.
“The Twirls Media platform is a robust and mature platform for the next generation of user-controlled media for devices ranging from smart phones to the Oculus Rift,” said Jay Jayaram, President of 3D-4U, Inc. “Following successful events in several continents for international soccer, American football and concerts, we are very pleased to partner with the Jaguars to bring this experience for the first time to NFL fans. We are blending entertainment, social media and gaming to create something that they have never experienced before.”
At EverBank Field, as the season progresses, the second-screen mobile app version of this experience will be available to fans in the stadium bleachers.