An extended look at the UNC quarterback’s on and off-script play in an outside the pocket.
Uttering a Blake Bortles comparison for a 2017 QB prospect will induce a cringe-worthy response from many fans and media. But this time last year, the Jaguars’ QB was a promising name-drop for a rookie passer.
Most passers not only need a practice routine for continuous development but to also sustain skills that aren’t new. This is important for practitioners of any performance-oriented craft.
Professional musicians understand what I’m saying. Former Tonight Show band leader, and jazz musician Branford Marsalis explains it well in this pre-performance interview on a show from the late 1980s when he recent finished a tour with Sting.
Most fans of Sting’s music consider his work a thoughtful departure from what they might consider mindless popular music. While true, Marsalis explains in this interview with fellow saxophonist David Sanborn that the demands between most pop and rock music and long-form improvised music are often vast:
Sanborn: Was it hard switching idioms?
Marsalis: Completely. Impossible. On the first [Sting] tour, the thing that I lacked was the intensity at the beginning to play those solos. It’s like the novel versus the sitcom thing. In jazz, you get to like play a little bit, then you establish the melody, and then you come back to it later and build and build. But in this, it was like ‘Burn Baby Burn’ from the first because you’ve only got 15 seconds so you might as well make the most of it.
Sanborn: You’ve got to tell your whole life story in those 15 seconds.
Marsalis: I had to learn how to do that. Then, when I went back to playing jazz, the thing that drove me crazy was how much dexterity and control of the instrument that I lost from playing those little sporadic moments and the rest of the time getting down and dancing and…stuff [Marsalis grimaces]…
…But the first time I started doing jazz gigs again, it was so sad [stares at his fingers as he wiggles them] and I was terrified it was going to be like that forever.
Well, you wanted to play Rock N’Roll, huh [twists his fingers into his palm]. Fingers freezing up.
But once I realized that six months later that it gets cool, I said “fine.” This time I was prepared for it. We’d do gigs that were sad and I’d say, Well folks, it’s going to be sad.
You just have to hang in there and laugh with it. You gotta laugh with it or you cry.
The difference in Bortles’ 2015 and 2016 seasons has similarities. Prior to 2015, Bortles worked diligently with coach-consultant Tom House.
From what I was told by someone with ties to Jacksonville’s social scene, the best way to sum up Bortles 2016 preparation is diligent participation in the local night life. The lack of consistent practice leads to a regression of skills with most performers—especially younger players.
Before the Jaguars drafted Bortles, I described him as a half a glass of water. Not half-full. Not half-empty. Just a half a glass.
Trubisky is at a similar spot with his development as Bortles pre-draft standing. This extended film room includes excerpts of three games and the mix of athletic tools, hubris, and developing understanding of the game that people love and hate about the Tar Heel’s game.
For analysis of skill players in the 2017 draft class, pre-order a login for the 2017 Rookie Scouting Portfolio – for April 1 download Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2017 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.