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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings should have their way with struggling Bortles

By Matthew Coller

Blake Bortles has no redeeming qualities as an NFL quarterback. He doesn’t throw the ball with any kind of accuracy, he doesn’t possess presence in the pocket or an ability to diagnose defenses consistently. Bortles’ best attribute is his athleticism and even that has had a limited impact on his career to this point.

In short, Bortles is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

After consecutive games against Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott, the Vikings should be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Defenses haven’t had to force Bortles into mistakes. He has willingly provided his opponents with turnover opportunities all season long. The third-year starter has 15 interceptions and five fumbles in 12 games this year. He had 18 interceptions with 14 fumbles in 16 games last year. Against the Denver Broncos last week, Bortles threw the ball 42 times and completed just 19 passes for 181 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble.

This is a game where the Vikings defense should dominate their matchups upfront and cut the supply off to the Jaguars’ talented receivers with relative ease. It shouldn’t be a question of stopping the Jaguars from scoring, it should be a question of finding ways to score yourself. The Broncos scored a touchdown through a Bradley Roby interception and added a late field goal after forcing a Bortles fumble deep in Jaguars territory.

For Roby’s interception the Broncos came out in Cover-2 with man coverage underneath. The Jaguars sent all five receivers out into routes which gave the Broncos’ pass rush an opportunity to get pressure on Bortles. Bortles establishes himself at the top of his drop and has some time but the left side of his protection is collapsing. This means that Bortles has to throw with anticipation. He has an opportunity to throw with anticipation to a receiver who would then have an opportunity to get to the first down marker.

The Jaguars actually have an ideal play call to attack this coverage. With two shallow crossing routes working together, Allen Robinson is free running across the field. Robinson needs Bortles to anticipate the play and loft the ball out in front of him at the point of the play in the above image. This is where Bortles hurts himself more than the defense hurts him. He can’t read coverages. He doesn’t diagnose what defenses are doing so he never knows how to make anticipator throws or recognize the soft spots to attack. This ball should come out before the edge defender gets to his body, but it can’t because of Bortles’ slow process.

You can see from this angle that Bortles has an opportunity to throw a touch pass that leads Robinson outside. Instead of doing that he brings the ball back as part of a pump fake, holding it long enough for the edge pressure to crash into him as he releases the ball. Even if Bortles hadn’t been hit, chances are the ball would have been intercepted. That is because the quarterback threw the ball with no elevation. He threw it as if he were trying to fit the ball past the undercutting Bradley Roby, again showing off no understanding of what coverage the defense was playing.

Roby ran the ball back for a relatively easy touchdown.

A big issue for the Vikings defense over the past few weeks has been their inability to rush the passer with discipline. Dak Prescott converted a long third down that set up a huge throw to Dez Bryant that set up Ezekiel Elliott’s touchdown run. Matthew Stafford converted multiple third downs with his legs because the Vikings lost contain. Bortles isn’t the type of quarterback where you have to be aggressive chasing him. He will hold the ball in the pocket and it will take him time to diagnose what is happening in front of him. He has an elongated throwing motion and no awareness of the pocket closing around him. If the Vikings focus on condensing his pockets rather than winning their one-on-one matchups, they should be able to create pressure and opportunities to knock the ball free from the quarterback.

Danielle Hunter was the standout player for the Vikings against the Dallas Cowboys last week. Hunter faced the best left tackle in the NFL, Tyron Smith, on a few occasions and showed well considering the matchup. Both he and Everson Griffen will have significant advantages over the Jaguars starting tackles this week. Kelvin Beachum is the better starter of the Jaguars’ two tackles. Beachum will struggle to match Hunter’s sheer power and will have no chance against Griffen’s explosiveness coming around the edge. That’s a real problem for the Jaguars because Jeremy Parnell on the other side can’t be relied on.

For last week’s fumble, Von Miller drove Parnell back into his quarterback despite being initially chipped by a tight end.

The Vikings have played down to their opponents at times this year. That’s a legitimate concern against this team. Even the Broncos last week struggled to win decisively, though a big reason for that was the play of Paxton Lynch. Lynch missed two long touchdowns with badly underthrown passes. Lynch was generally incapable of executing his offense, he did a pretty good interpretation of Bortles actually.

The post Vikings should have their way with struggling Bortles appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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