Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Interceptions a Bit of a Worry; Bortles Has Shown a Lot of Promise for Jags, but He Also Leads NFL in Being Picked Off

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Interceptions a Bit of a Worry; Bortles Has Shown a Lot of Promise for Jags, but He Also Leads NFL in Being Picked Off

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

It could have been a lot worse for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles through his first five games.

He could be winless and on his second head coach like Oakland's Derek Carr is this year.

He could have a train-wreck game on his early resume, like Kyle Orton, who threw five interceptions for Chicago in his third start nine years ago.

Or he could be like Alex Smith in 2005 for San Francisco: No wins, no touchdowns and 10 interceptions ... and no hope.

Under those circumstances, Bortles' record (1-3 as a starter, 1-4 overall), touchdowns (five) and interceptions (10) entering Sunday's game against Miami represents equal parts progress and optimism.

But a question being tossed around EverBank Field Wednesday: When do Bortles' interceptions become a concern?

Not yet and probably not for a long time.

"What I think is going to happen: He's going to throw interceptions," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. "Over the course of his rookie year and actually throughout the course of his career, interceptions will happen."

But ...

"Hopefully they will minimize themselves as we go," said Fisch, who labeled Bortles' three interceptions against Cleveland as one "fluke," one "miscommunication," and one "we can't have."

Bortles' 10 interceptions (in only 174 attempts) lead the NFL entering Week 8. Putting that into context, the Redskins' Kirk Cousins has nine interceptions and was benched at halftime last week, but among the six quarterbacks with seven are New Orleans' Drew Brees, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and Atlanta's Matt Ryan.

The point: Interceptions will happen to quarterbacks in general and rookie quarterbacks in particular. The key for Bortles is limiting how impactful those turnovers become.

If a Bortles Interception Misery Index were constructed, it might look like this:

Worth A Shot (two): Down 34-3 against Indianapolis in Week 3, Bortles tried to hit Allen Robinson 31 yards down the left sideline. Two weeks later, against Pittsburgh, from his own 9, Bortles threw 46 yards downfield on second-and-28 to Robinson (although Fisch later said there was a check-down option to make third down manageable). …

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