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Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Blake Bortles-Ben Roethlisberger Comparison

BortlesFear not Jaguars fans! Blake Bortles is not Blaine Gabbert in disguise! Despite Jacksonville's record might say and a first glance at Bortles' numbers may suggest, the rookie out of Central Florida is poised to be the face of the franchise for years to come.

How do I know? Because of the similarities that Bortles shares with another quarterback in the league, one that has two Super Bowl rings and a spot in Canton in the bag, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger.

All throughout the combine during the off-season and all the mock drafts that were put together the same comparison was made, and underneath all the Johnny Manziel nonsence, Bortles quietly turned himself into the third overall pick.

Let's start with the obvious physical comparison, both stand at 6-foot-5 and weigh roughly the same, Bortles at 232lbs and Big Ben at 241lbs. This means one thing, they are tough to bring down, something Roethlisberger has proved time and time and time again. When you watch Bortles play it is easy to compare him to the play stlye of Big Ben, he isn't afraid to take the ball forward himself if there are no options available downfield, he already has 106 yards on the ground, when you look at Roethlisberger's rookie season he only had 144 all year.

Obviously I'm not saying Bortles is going to be a great quarterback just because of his above avergage athleticism and size for someone at his position, he does have the passing ability to match.

For example let's have a look at when the Jaguars actually played Roethlisberger and the Steelers in week five. The stat line may show Bortles with no touchdowns and two picks, but he had to cope with dropped passes left, right and center, including three drops from fellow rookie Allen Hurns. He was only sacked once against Dick LeBeau's Pittsburgh defence that has a great record against rookie quarterbacks.

Jacksonville had a real chance of winning this game thanks to their defensive effort, right up until Bortles threw a pick six which he admitted to being 'a bad read, and a bad throw' I hate to use the cliche of 'rookie error' but it is appropriate in this instance.

What Bortles has over other rookie quarterbacks is a great arm, and a great football mind. If you take someone like Manziel and all his evasiveness and highlight plays he did in college on his feet, that goes after a few years in the NFL, just ask Michael Vick, and you become reliant on the other areas of your game.

Take an example from basketball, Ray Allen and Tim Duncan are still great players even though they are pushing the late, late 30's because their respective games rely on other areas than athleticism. 

What Bortles is lacking now is experience of playing at this level, give him a couple of years, and maybe an offensive line, and he should shape into one of the better quarterbacks in the league.

Good news for Jaguars fans, something I don't get to say often! 


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