Maybe it’s unfair to compare Blake Bortles to Tom Brady. Bortles in his fourth year in the league and Brady just turning forty are two different animals. But seeing the contrast of what Brady does on the practice field and what Bortles does is stunning. Whether it’s the footwork and arm motion, reading defenses, command of the offense or body language, Brady is in a whole other universe.
That might be the case with any other quarterback on the field at the same time that Brady is taking snaps but in this case both #12 and #5 are starters for their NFL teams. You’d think that Bortles would want to gain from that comparison, but he toed the company line when asked about practicing against New England.
“I think this whole thing was about us,” Blake said after practice. “The Patriots just happened to be the team we were going against and where we were going. It’s cool to go practice against the defending World Champions. It was about what can we do, how do we react in this situation, how can we continue to get better.”
You can’t help but notice the tight spiral and velocity Brady has on every pass. As you watch, it’s a product of the footwork, the core strength and the hip and shoulder rotation. He’s spot on every time with the ball position and ability get rid of it when he needs to. And it’s on target. Bortles on the other hand, is flat-footed often with his shoulders aligned with the line of scrimmage instead of perpendicular. That might sound like a technical thing, but two days of side-by-side comparison revealed where the best quarterback in the game is getting his power and accuracy and where a guy who’s struggling can improve.
No question Blake is better mechanically than he’s been and not everybody can be Tom Brady. In fact, nobody can be Tom Brady. But there are things that Bortles can fix almost immediately. No matter the pass, Brady brings it with a crispness of purpose that’s missing from the Jaguars’ starters throws.
Nonetheless, Blake talked about how New England was posing a new challenge this week reading defenses and disguising coverages.
“Up front, they single everybody up,” he explained. “That’s kind of just making everything one-on-one as far as the blocking schemes and then they do a lot of different things in coverage with their safeties, whether they’re sprinting their guys down or staying too high and doing different stuff.”
There was a lot of publicity about *Bortles five interceptions in the third practice of training camp. He’s been better since then and says he’s learning when he throws a pick, even here in New England.
“I think any time you throw an interception, I think you learn from it,” he said. “It’s practice, not downplaying practice or justifying that it’s okay to throw five interceptions, it’s not. But if there’s a time to do it, that’s then.”
Are they better? Is the question asked constantly about the offense. There are stars on defense and money spent on that side of the ball. On offense, the addidition of Leonard Fournette has signaled a new emphasis on running the football. Better is going to depend on *Bortles and the offense live. Neither has been great, but have shown flashes of improvement over last season.
“There is no doubt there has been some bad stuff that has happened and we have to fix and continue to work on,” Blake said when asked about the offense getting better. “I think if you watched seven on sevens today or one on ones and there wasn’t a whole lot times we got stopped. We obviously didn’t have the team period we wanted to. We messed up some things there, but I thought from a receiver, passing-game standpoint, the one on ones and the seven on sevens were extremely good today. We just have to find a way to carry that over into the 11-on-11.”