FOXBORO, Mass. — Leonard Fournette is the Jacksonville Jaguars’ star rusher, but he didn’t supply the team’s longest run from scrimmage in its Week 1 win over the New York Giants.
Neither did backup T.J. Yeldon, who replaced an injured Fournette during the second quarter, nor third-string running back Corey Grant.
That distinction belonged to Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who ripped off a 41-yard gain after fooling New York’s defense on a read option.
Bortles isn’t known for his wheels, but Bill Belichick, whose New England Patriots will visit the Jaguars this Sunday, has great respect for the QB’s mobility, which he compared to that of Carolina’s Cam Newton and Houston’s Deshaun Watson.
The Patriots faced Newton in their third preseason game and matched up against Watson in Week 1.
“He’s good,” Belichick said of Bortles. “He runs well. He’s a big, strong kid (6-foot-5, 236 pounds). He’s hard to bring down. He can extend plays, which is similar to quarterbacks we’ve seen the last three weeks, not counting the (final preseason) game. We’ve seen this three weeks in a row with players that have that type of skill. He’s definitely in that category.”
Bortles has surpassed 300 rushing yards in each of his four pro seasons and has 18 career carries of 20-plus yards. He carried the ball 57 times last season for 322 yards, seventh-most among all NFL quarterbacks.
As Belichick explained, Bortles typically uses his feet in improvisational situations rather than on designed quarterback runs, though his 41-yard gain against the Giants was an example of the latter.
“There’s occasionally plays that are designed for the quarterback, but not many,” the Patriots coach said. “A lot of his plays are either on some type of option decision based on what the defense does, or there’s times where he’ll just pull the ball down on a pass if a quarterback’s not properly contained and he has an opportunity to run and gain easy yardage for a first down or a touchdown or a scramble situation. He’ll do that. Any quarterback will do that. But he can do a lot of damage there.
“The play he ran against the Giants looked like a read option. He kept it when the end closed and there was nobody there, and he ran for 41 yards. If they had had that covered, he would have handed the ball off. There’s some plays like that. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of designed plays for him, but I’m sure they have a couple in their offense. I would. He’s certainly capable of it.”
The Patriots allowed Watson to rush for 40 yards on eight carries during Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Texans.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images