Jags are still committed to Bortles, Khan says
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is widely known as a source of quotable, scathing quips about his football team – a squad predicted to do exactly nothing this season that ended up one the NFL’s most exciting. He’s not been one to mince words when it comes to the foibles of QB Blake Bortles either, but Khan doubled down on the organization’s decision to extend Bortles’ contract with a fifth-year option leading into this weekend’s Wild Card matchup with Buffalo. The 10-6 Jags are set to take on the 9-7 Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon in the squad’s first Playoff appearance in a decade, so Jacksonville will be relying on Bortles now perhaps more than at any point during his stint with the team. Khan told reporters late Thursday that he is happy with Bortles’ performance when taken on the whole (despite some serious sporadic blunders), reiterating just how much the UCF grade means to the long-term success of the organization.
“We are invested,” Khan said. “We want him to be successful.”
There are several reasons for this affection the sometimes volatile owner has for his sometimes underperforming quarterback. According to Khan and head coach Doug Marrone, Bortles, who the former called a “a nice guy,” has the on-field agility, durability and ability to remain health that a Jax QB needs along with the dedication to the team needed to “stay the course.”
Essentially, investing time and resources in continuing to develop Bortles, a Florida native from Altamonte Springs in the Orlando metro area, is as much a matter of recognizing the 25-year-old’s latent potential as much as it is a recognition of the good optics. In a way, the management’s decision to stick with Bortles on the hope that he’ll mature into a mediocre-at-best quarterback into a Super Bowl miracle isn’t much different mentality-wise than a sports bettor deciding to legally wager on the Jaguars online at an offshore internet sportsbook.
Jacksonville is overwhelmingly favored to beat Buffalo this weekend and secure a spot in the Playoffs proper, with Bovada.lv listing the Florida side with moneyline odds of -400 to win outright and odds of -105 to cover the spread worth 9 points. Nevertheless, the Jags are still a longshot to win the championship, with Super Bowl odds of +1,800. Whether or not Bortles - who, inconsistent and prone to throwing interceptions as he might be, DID improve in the 2017-2018 campaign, ending the regular season with 903 yards’ worth of completions – can take the Jags from underdog to dark horse remains to be seen.
What also remains undecided is whether or not Khan and the Jags’ upper management will decide to stick it out with Bortles if he doesn’t continue to make gains or even to make a good account for himself in Jacksonville’s run in the Playoffs, however long that might be. The fifth-year option on Bortles’ contract only applies to injuries, and though the “local-boy-makes-good” angle is a heartwarming story, the reality is that Jax could probably pick up somebody more reliable in the off-season without incurring penalties. A move like that could help the Jaguars improve their Super Bowl odds – but who knows? Maybe Bortles and the boys can make their own luck.
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