JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Another week, another shot at Blake Bortles.
This time it was Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard and Bleacher Report NFL analyst Chris Simms, both of whom ripped the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback. That didn’t faze Bortles when he was asked about it Wednesday; he has grown accustomed to what seems to be a near-constant flow of insults.
“It’ll probably never stop. There’s people that think LeBron James sucks, so if that happens I’m sure there will be a lot of people that always think I suck.”
“It’ll probably never stop,” Bortles said. “There’s people that think LeBron James sucks, so if that happens I’m sure there will be a lot of people that always think I suck.”
Bortles wasn’t comparing himself to James. His point was this: If one of the greatest basketball players of all time has detractors, so will an NFL quarterback who has 90 touchdown passes, 64 interceptions and just 21 victories in 61 career starts.
Bortles and the Jaguars are preparing to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff game.
Bortles had the best season of his career in 2017. He completed 60 percent of passes for the first time, cut his interception total to 13, and finished with a better passer rating than Cam Newton and Joe Flacco and threw more touchdown passes than Matt Ryan and Eli Manning.
Byard, who picked off Bortles twice in the regular-season finale, told The Tennessean newspaper that he wants to make New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “look like Blake Bortles” when the Titans play the Patriots on Saturday in the other AFC divisional playoff.
That follows Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney calling Bortles “trash” after Bortles threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns in the Jaguars’ 45-7 victory on Dec. 17. Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas described Bortles as a “subpar quarterback” after he threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-24 victory on Dec. 10.
Earlier this year, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict said Cincinnati’s defensive game plan for the Nov. 5 meeting was to stop the Jaguars’ run game because “obviously [Leonard] Fournette can beat you and I’m not sure Blake can beat us. We want to put it in his hands and have him beat us, if he can.”
Last week Tennessee defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said Bortles wasn’t any good in the clutch. “As long as Bortles is back there, if the ballgame is in his hands, he’s going to choke,” Casey told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.”
And let’s not forget New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan‘s shot at Bortles during an offseason interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, when he talked about how much practicing against Drew Brees helped the Saints defense: “It’s not like we’re going against Blake Bortles. It’s not like Drew is giving picks away.”
That brings us back to Simms, a former NFL quarterback and the son of Phil Simms, MVP of Super Bowl XXI.
Earlier this week during an appearance on The Dan LeBatard Show, Chris Simms said he has Bortles at 70th in his quarterback rankings — behind such players as Chad Henne (Bortles’ backup), Nathan Peterman and T.J. Yates. That promoted former Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli, who is part of the team’s radio broadcast crew, to call in to the show and defend Bortles.
“I appreciate Chris Simms almost died bleeding to death on the football field, which is the only cool factor that he has in his entire life, outside of his dad’s great, too,” Boselli said, referencing Simms needing emergency surgery to remove his spleen after rupturing it during a loss to Carolina in 2006. “… [But] Blake Bortles is the 70th-best quarterback is just the most ignorant, asinine statement I’ve ever heard.”