Make Bortles Uncomfortable
Blake Bortles is a solid young passer, but it isn’t necessarily unfair to say that he’s not yet lived up to his billing as the third overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. He owns a career record of 10-24, has a completion percentage sub-sixty percent, and throws a lot of interceptions – 42 over his first 35 career games.
He’s got an arm and his 35 touchdown passes a year ago show that he knows how to put the ball in the endzone. But one of the big knocks on Bortles has always been his penchant for turning the ball over and making mistakes when faced with unrelenting pressure.
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And this season hasn’t been any different so far. Though he is sporting a 61 percent completion rate through his first five games this year, he’s also thrown seven interceptions to eight touchdowns. He’s also added a pair of fumbles to the mix.
But given time, Bortles has shown that he can carve up a defense. And that is something of a problem for the Raiders.
One of the biggest problems with Oakland’s defense this season has been not having a sustained pass rush. They’ve simply been giving opposing quarterbacks too much time in the pocket to sit back and pick them apart.
Which goes a long way toward explaining why the team is giving up 445 yards a game – 313 of which, are coming through the air.
We saw the Raiders have some pass rushing success against Baltimore and San Diego. They moved both Joe Flacco and Philip Rivers around the pocket, flushed them out, and most importantly, hit them both hard all day long.
And because they had a pass rush that was solid, they forced Flacco and Rivers both into a few key mistakes.
Outside of that though, the pass rush has been non-existent. Their eight total sacks on the year is off even the modest pace they set last season. And this year, with the addition of Bruce Irvin and others, the pass rush was supposed to be a strength.
To have success in Jacksonville, the Raiders absolutely must, without a doubt, get to Bortles early and often. The Jags have given up 14 sacks on the year, so they’ve had some trouble protecting their quarterback. Oakland needs to take advantage of that and make Bortles’ life a nightmare.
If the pass rush no-shows yet again, Bortles is going to carve them up like a Thanksgiving turkey.