Recent Posts

Blake Bortles, The People’s MVP, Falls About A Foot Short, by Chuck Strom

‚ÄčThe NFC Championship Game has just concluded as of this writing, with the Nick Foles-led Philadelphia Eagles beating the Minnesota Vikings by a shocking score of 38-7. The Eagles will travel to Minnesota to meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, thus ruining Minnesota’s dreams of winning a Lombardi Trophy in their own building. The real story for today, however, is how close the Jacksonville Jaguars came to dethroning the NFL’s greatest dynasty in its own house.

For the first three quarters of the AFC Championship Game, the Jaguars did to the Patriots what they had done to the Pittsburgh Steelers, only better. The Jaguar defense got a lot of stops, and the offense ran the ball down the Patriots’ throats, allowing Blake Bortles to rely on the play-action passes that are his lifeblood as an NFL quarterback. Unlike the Steelers, however, the Patriots finally adjusted successfully to the Jaguars, loading defenders in the box to stop the run and dare Bortles to beat them as a pure passer. Knowing the Patriots’ history, it was obvious at the beginning of the fourth quarter that even though they led by ten points, the Jaguars were going to need at least one more score to come away with a win. With running back Leonard Fournette getting stuffed at the line time and again, however, Bortles was helpless to prevent one three-and-out after another, which gave Tom Brady all the opportunity he needed to catch the Jaguars with a touchdown pass with just under three minutes left. And yet for all of the mockery that Bortles has endured over the years, even becoming a punchline on NBC’s The Good Place, he came very close on the ensuing Jaguars drive to shocking the Patriots and achieving immortality. If he had put his fourth-and-15 pass about a foot further, Patriots cornerback Stephen Gilmore wouldn’t have been able to bat it down, and the receiver who had a step on him would have caught the ball and scored. So close. Now, we get the Patriots again in their umpteenth Super Bowl, and with all disrespect intended to their opponents, we may as well hand Brady and Belichick the silver football now and save everyone the trouble. They’re not going to screw things up in two weeks, and Nick Foles and the Eagles will be deer in their headlights.

All I can think about, of course, is how easily Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers shredded the Jaguars last month. Right now, with Jimmy G under center, the Niners could go toe-to-toe with the Patriots or anyone else in the NFL, and Niners coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch will have another draft and plenty of cap space to load them up further for next season. I can’t wait for the odds to come out for the Niners to win Super Bowl LIII. When they do, it will be time to place a tiny wager.

Chuck Strom

Comments are closed.