Blake Bortles is going to be the backup quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, and that’s a very good thing.
Bortles, who managed to go bust with the Jacksonville Jaguars after signing a three-year extension for $54 million ($26.5 million guaranteed) after a successful performance in the 2017-18 playoffs, will look to rebound and rehabilitate a career gone upside down.
Rams head coach Sean McVay is the right guy at the right time for such a reclamation project. Los Angeles will allow Bortles to take a deep breath and be part of an organization not looking to rely on him come Sundays.
It’s also a significant upgrade from Sean Mannion.
Mannion, who saw the bulk of the preseason work for the Rams in 2018, didn’t earn much praise for his effort. His four seasons were uneventful. He appeared in 10 games, throwing for 258 yards and one interception. It was his poor play in those three exhibition games that especially left fans in Los Angeles hoping starter Jared Goff would remain healthy, and keep Mannion holding the clipboard.
Bortles will lower the anxiety level significantly.
This is really about a win-win. The Rams need a viable backup quarterback for Goff, and Bortles needs a job and a season to find his way back. A one year deal in Los Angeles satisfies both purposes, especially in a year where LA will be a potential favorite to get back to the Super Bowl.
3. Sean Mannion Is No Longer A Worry
Perhaps the best part about the Los Angeles Rams signing Bortles is, as we just mentioned, them no longer needing to worry about Mannion.
Mannion was a liability, especially for a team who is a bonafide Super Bowl contender. While Bortles has been up and down in his career, he’s a reasonable insurance policy in case Goff ever goes down. Make no mistake, the idea of Mannion having to come off the bench to spell Goff was terrifying for fans in Los Angeles.
Not anymore. If you separate Bortles from the perception, the reality is some confidence in him at the backup quarterback position. With Mannion, it would have been stripped-down plays and a hope that he doesn’t lose the game. With the former Jacksonville quarterback, there will be confidence he can win a game or two.
Best of all for Los Angeles is that Bortles buys the Rams time in case of an injury. He’s a former starter who will prosper with McVay in his ear. The same would not, or could not, be said for Mannion.
Without fail, this is a significant upgrade to a position often overlooked. As good as the Rams were, especially Goff for the bulk of the season, the fear of injury was legitimate.
That fear may still exist. But with Mannion, the alternative was a sense of doom. With Bortles, that simply won’t be the case.
2. Blake Bortles Has Won In The Playoffs
The window for a Super Bowl isn’t closed in Los Angeles. The Rams will return a lot of core talent to a roster already poised for another championship run in 2019.
But, don’t be fooled that the status quo is good as is. It’s not; it never is. What happened with running back Todd Gurley is the best example of just that.
C.J. Anderson was great when Gurley broke down. Without him, it is anyone’s guess how far Los Angeles ultimately goes in the playoffs. Still, replacing a running back is a different equation than needing to replace a quarterback. Anderson presented LA with a plug and play opportunity, whereas Mannion did not.
This isn’t to say Bortles is as good a quarterback as Jared Goff is. Bortles has been up and down in his career whereas Goff has trended up. Even as subpar as Goff was after the bye week, he never resembled the issues the Jaguars experienced with the quarterback position.
Ultimately, the upside to moving on from Mannion is a proven track record in the playoffs where Bortles excelled. He passed for a combined 594 yards with three touchdowns before ultimately losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
No one expects a challenge to the starting quarterback position in LA. But, in a league where the fortunes of a team rely upon the QB position, a franchise could do a lot worse than Bortles waiting in the wings.
1. A Win-Win For Everyone
Don’t count on Bortles to see the backup role with the Los Angeles Rams as anything other than a fresh start. Conversely, expect LA to see the one-year deal as a safety net for a season where Super Bowl aspirations are both legitimate and tangible.
For the former Jaguars quarterback, a season sitting behind Goff and working in the McVay system could be a launching pad, a springboard to a second career as a starter. Even if Jacksonville hadn’t signed Nick Foles, the writing was on the wall.
While Bortles had become something of an eye roll, a season with the Rams will likely be a rejuvenation. For fans in Los Angeles, expect a sense of relief.
Goff got knocked around in the second half of last season. Games in Chicago and at home to Philadelphia saw the Rams quarterback pick himself off of the turf too many times for comfort. It’s a combination of good fortune and timing that the QB position in Los Angeles has been relatively healthy.
More often than not, that’s a bullet dodged.
Mannion was a poor backup quarterback answer in 2018, and thankfully won’t be in 2019. If there was any roster spot to be concerned with, it was the one he occupied.
Bortles solves that issue. He is no longer a starter in the National Football League, but given what McVay has done with a guy once 0-7, Bortles and Los Angeles find themselves in a win-win situation.