Heading into the draft, there were plenty of people comparing Blake Bortles to Ben Roethlisberger and the similarities haven’t been lost on the Steelers quarterback.
Both players are tall, big quarterbacks who have shown an ability to use their feet to avoid pass rushers and salvage plays. Roethlisberger calls Bortles, who will be on the opposite sideline this Sunday, “a young me.”
“I liked him coming out,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I thought he was the most ready and a guy that I thought could be the best, just because I think the things he does: He can extend plays, he can stay in, he can throw the ball, he can throw on the run. He is an impressive-type young player. He makes some rookie mistakes but he also makes some plays that you don’t expect rookies to make in a good way.”
Bortles, who shares an agent with Roethlisberger, said he’s modeled some things in his game after Roethlisberger, but points out that there’s a long way to go from being a rookie to winning two Super Bowls.
The similarities extend beyond their playing styles and builds. Both players were expected to spend most, if not all, of their rookie seasons on the bench before winding up in the starting lineup before the first month of the season was out. Bortles made his first start last week in the Jaguars’ fourth game of the season, which was a game longer than it took for Roethlisberger to take over for Tommy Maddox in Pittsburgh during the 2004 season.
The biggest difference in the two situations is the team around the quarterback. Roethlisberger benefitted from playing on a veteran club with talent while Bortles is on an 0-4 Jaguars team that’s still finding its shape under the stewardship of coach Gus Bradley and General Manager Dave Caldwell. Those differences are significant, but things should be looking up in Jacksonville as long as Bortles continues to progress despite the weaknesses just about everywhere else on the roster.