Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles may need to use his legs to defeat the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.
The fourth-year quarterback is a notable scrambler who has engineered scoring drives highlighted by his uncommon athleticism at his position.
Bortles ranks third on the team with 284 rushing yards, just eight yards behind backup running back Chris Ivory. The quarterback is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, offering up big-chunk gains when there is open grass in front of him.
Bortles will need his mobility in Week 14. The Seahawks are known for pass rushing opposing quarterbacks with a heavy rotation.
With constant changes up front, the Seahawks are well-conditioned to chase after quarterbacks, forcing passers to use their legs to evade defenders.
The Seahawks have a talented group behind their defensive line. The Seahawks linebackers and defensive backs are still productive despite a recent rash of major injuries.
Having talent at every layer of the defense allows the Seahawks to hold opposing passing games in check. If Bortles can't find receiving options due to stellar coverage, he will have to test the Seahawks with his speed.
“When I think about running, it’s kind of last resort-type deal," Bortles said during his weekly press conference Wednesday.
"Its, ‘Let’s go through the progression, see if we can get the ball to anybody open, if we’re running out of time or if nothing looks good let’s take off and see if we can make a play.’ I think part of that is whether they do different things, like put a guy in the middle to spy you or watch out for you or just try to keep you in the pocket without a rush. They do a good job of that, so that will be something that if it needs to happen, if I need to get out of the pocket and run, I’ll have to do a good job to find ways to do that.”
This season, Bortles has put together drives that have been largely dependent on his legs.
Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12, Bortles led a seven-play, 75-yard drive, which featured the quarterback picking up 34 rushing yards and a touchdown on four carries.
The Seahawks haven't allowed a quarterback to score a rushing touchdown this season.
Last week, Seattle held Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz to just 30 yards on six carries. Wentz nearly scored a touchdown on a run in the third quarter but the Seahawks forced him to fumble at the goal line.
While the Seahawks have been successful against opposing mobile quarterbacks in the red zone, the defense is allowing them to pick up 5.2 yards per carry. Bortles may have opportunities to move the chains against the Seahawks when they slip into coverage formations.
If Bortles can pick up a few big gains, it may force the Seahawks to adjust their coverage. If that happens, Bortles will need to take advantage.
Bortles knows he will need to make plays when he finds a weakness in coverage. Those opportunities will be few and far between.
However, the Seahawks will focus on stopping running back Leonard Fournette first. If Bortles can find a look he likes, he could take advantage of the Seahawks' focus on the running game.
“Yeah, I think so, definitely," Bortles said.
"They’re going to load the box up and try to stop the run. It’s the staple of their defense and what they do, they take pride in that, I think, and they do a really good job of it. So we’re going to have to be sharp trying to find ways to run the ball, but we’re also going to have to be able to take shots and try to loosen the box up a little bit.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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