Heavily scrutinized throughout the 2017 National Football League season, former UCF quarterback and current Jacksonville Jaguars signal caller Blake Bortles has heard it all throughout his first run in the NFL playoffs. From being the reason that Jacksonville wasn’t able to make it to Super Bowl LII to his now questionable future with the Jaguars’ organization.

Despite the load of criticism that Bortles took week in and week out, Jacksonville was just a couple passes away from upending the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts last weekend at Gillette Stadium. Making throw after throw and finding more nifty ways to nab a first down was Bortles, who completed 23-of-36 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown.

Those numbers were right about on par with his counterpart Tom Brady, who finished the AFC championship completing 26-of-38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns. The difference between the two? One was sent packing, while the other has a date on Feb. 4th against the Philadelphia Eagles at One Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Under a new leader in first-year Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone, Bortles made progress that not many were quite sure he’d be able to make in Year 4. From Bortles’ playmaking days in a Knights’ uniform, one thing the quarterback knew how to do best was win and that’s something Jacksonville had done a lot of until this past season.

In the NFL, finding a young quarterback to develop and hang onto is a hard commodity to nab, especially when you have scouts looking at players entering the NFL draft and impending free agents on the market. Though Bortles hasn’t had exactly a ‘splash season’ as of yet, the former UCF has shown he is capable of being the man at the helm for Jacksonville.

With playoff wins over the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers under his belt, the main question is will Jacksonville give him the chance to prove he can do it again?

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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