JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The offensive line is still the biggest question mark for the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into the 2016 season, but that might not be as bad as it seems because quarterback Blake Bortles played pretty well behind a struggling unit in 2015.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bortles ranked 13th in total QBR (18.0) and 14th in completion percentage (45.0) -- and was tied for the second-most touchdown passes (eight) behind Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (nine) -- when facing pressure last season.
Bortles completed 45 percent of his passes (59-of-131) under pressure, which ranked 14th. That was better than New Orleans' Drew Brees (44.8 percent), San Diego's Philip Rivers (43.3 percent), Rodgers (41.7 percent), New England's Tom Brady (39.2 percent) and Carolina's Cam Newton (38.0 percent).
Bortles was under pressure more than all but three quarterbacks. Only Rodgers (220) and Seattle's Russell Wilson (211) had more dropbacks under pressure than Bortles (201).
Football Outsiders also conducted a study that showed that Bortles was one of the league's better quarterbacks under pressure. His DVOA -- a metric the site uses to measure efficiency -- was ninth, a significant jump from his rookie season when he ranked 35th.
Newton, Brees, Rodgers and Atlanta's Matt Ryan are among the quarterbacks that were below Bortles in Football Outsiders' ranking.
Overall, Bortles' TD passes jumped from 11 as a rookie to 35 last season and his passing yards jumped from 2,908 to 4,428. Both 2015 totals are franchise records.
His plan for this offseason was to become a more efficient passer by raising his completion percentage (58.7 percent) and cutting down his interceptions (35 in two seasons). Do to that, he said he wants to fall in line with the formula that quarterbacks coach Nate Hackett has developed. He breaks down passes into three categories: short passes, down the field and shots. The ideal completion percentage in each category is 80, 60 and 40.
In analyzing Bortles' throws from the 2015 season, I separated them into three categories that roughly correspond to Hackett's breakdown: passes that traveled up to 10 yards in the air (short passes), passes that traveled 11-30 yards in the air (down the field), and passes that traveled 31 or more yards in the air (shots).
It's apparent Bortles' biggest problem was the first category.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bortles completed 61.5 percent of his passes (313 attempts) that traveled up to 10 yards in the air, which ranked 31st in the NFL. His 21 touchdown passes on those short throws were third-most, but his 88.0 passer rating and 55.9 Total QBR ranked 21st and 23rd, respectively.
The numbers show Bortles, who reports to training camp on Monday with the rest of the quarterbacks and the rookies, made significant strides his second season. He needs to do the same in 2016 for the Jaguars to be contenders in the AFC South.