Steelers Need To Force Game Into Hands Of Jaguars QB Blake Bortles

Revenge is often calculated, cruel and relentless. The Pittsburgh Steelers hope to bring all these attributes Sunday when they kick off their revenge tour against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers will be looking to avenge an embarrassing 30-9 home loss to the Jaguars earlier this season, a game in which the Steelers were humiliated in every phase of it. Now it is the Steelers turn to dish back the punishment that the Jaguars handed to them. The Steelers should not have to look hard for the best route for punishment as the easiest way is to force the game into the hands of Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.

In their last meeting, Bortles completed just eight passes for 95 yards yet the Jaguars still pummeled the Steelers to a 30-9 victory. Bortles’ last attempted pass came with 8:11 remaining in the third quarter, yet that did not matter as the Jaguars forced five turnovers and ran for 231 yards. The Steelers will have to score and keep the football safe, forcing Bortles to beat them through the air, as the Jaguars quarterback has struggled mightily this season in high leverage situations.

For starters, Bortles has not had great success outside of Jacksonville this season, as the quarterback has completed just 55-percent of his passes on the road along with six touchdowns to eight interceptions. Bortles’ passer rating at home is an elite 98.0 but on the road his passer rating plummets to a staggering 69.4. Bortles is in store for perhaps his toughest road test of the season – a cold weather playoff game at Heinz Field.

Perhaps the biggest key the Steelers must achieve is forcing Bortles into uncomfortable situations that highlight his weaknesses. A big weakness for the Jaguars quarterback has been his production on third down. Bortles has posted his lowest passer rating (66.1), completion percentage (54.9%) and interceptions (6) on third down. The tale of tape becomes even more appealing as Bortles faces third and long situations. On third and 7-9, Bortles has completed under 60-percent of his passes and thrown two interceptions. On third and even longer (10+ yards), Bortles has completed just under 50-percent of his passes and just seven of his 48 pass attempts have moved the chains.

Bortles did not attempt a pass in the fourth quarter in his first matchup against the Steelers this season and that is going to have to change should the Steelers want to continue their postseason journey. The fourth quarter has not been kind to Bortles this season as the quarterback has thrown seven interceptions and posted 54.0 passer rating. If Bortles is throwing the football at high volume in the fourth it is safe to assume the Steelers are leading and that would be the final nail in the coffin for Pittsburgh to exact their revenge.

The Jaguars quarterback has been a turnover machine when trailing, throwing just five touchdowns to nine interceptions while behind. Not only that but Bortles has been sacked 15 times while trailing as he struggles in the pocket waiting for deeper yardage plays to develop.

While Bortles inability to carry the offense is the Jaguars biggest weakness, it is no secret. In fact, the same numbers and knowledge were available for the Steelers to see the first time around but yet the team still could not secure a victory. With the Jaguars having a stout defense and run game, it will take a complete effort from the Steelers, both offensively and defensively to put Bortles in a position of vulnerability.

About the Author

Daniel Valente
Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel
  • alevin16

    Still my biggest worry is that even a broken clock is right twice a day. If the corners peek into the backfield and fall for a play action there could be a receiver wide open

  • Stairway7

    Or he’ll run for a 100 yards and a td

  • taztroy43

    Steelers have a tendency of making garbage QBs look like Joe Montana! So yes I’m a little nervous but I have faith in the black and gold!

  • nutty32

    Might as well make Bud spy the QB runs. He can’t get off the line of scrimmage and into the pocket outside of called stunts, anyhow. Hilton blitzes timed off the edge were effective in Week 5, so they’ll probably be ready for that one this time.Double A ILB blitzes were also pretty much working.

  • PapaJuju

    I just have visions of TEBOW dancing in my head. Ugh.

  • Steelgator

    “Put the ball in Bortles’ hands and watch him fail” is the popular thinking, but why make life easy on a struggling player by stacking the box and letting him throw to nice, wide open targets. DeShone Kizer almost beat us because of 4 good plays on an otherwise terrible day, and Bortles can do the same thing.

    We should make Bortles our number one focus, because Fournette is not going to beat us by himself, especially not if Bortles throws multiple interceptions. It takes a very very special RB to win a game without ANY help from the passing game. We can take Bortles completely out of the game, and Fournette is not very special as he battles lingering injuries, the rookie wall, and cold weather (which he hates). He’s averaged over 4 yards per carry just once in his last 8 games.

    Against the Browns we stopped their running game cold, and they scored 24 points because we gave up a handful of big plays in the air. Against Houston, we gave up some plays on the ground, but held their passing game to 83 yards and they scored a total of 6 points. In week 5, Fournette went of for 180 yards and the Jags offense only scored 16 points, take away the 90 yard garbage time TD, and they only scored 9 points, despite Fournette running for 90 yards (would’ve been his 5th best yardage game of the season even without the 90 yard run).

    Bortles may not be very scary, but Fournette isn’t either, and you can completely take Bortles out – even make him a greater asset to your team than his by way of INT’s. We should focus on make Bortles absolutely miserable and let Fournette’s mediocre running carry the Jags to 7-9 points.

  • francesco

    Everyone knows that Jacksonville will run on first and second down. On third down…only if more than 3 yards they will throw it. But Butler is so dense and slow and stupid that he will have the safeties playing 30 yards back!!!

  • Michael Conrad

    Be careful of what you wish for. I remember the SD Charger game 1994 when the great Stan Humphries beat the Steelers 17 to 13. Two TD passes one to a TE and one to a WR. He had 11 of 22 and 165 yards.
    O’Donnell passed for 359 and threw 54 passes.

  • pittfan

    we dont say that name around here

  • pittfan

    If you can, rewatch this previous game. It was NOT the blowout the 30-9 score seems to indicate. Were it not for a holding call wiping out a TD with 3:30 left, we would have closed the score to 23-16. The TD got wiped off the board and 2 plays later, Ben threw his 5th pick.
    So 5 picks, 2 of which went for scores plus another that gave them a very short field for a score. A 1st and goal from the 5 that ended with us settling for a FG. JuJu was not a big factor back then. A LOT has changed for us. Ben will have a much better game.
    It might be close, but we win this thing.

  • taztroy43