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Bill Belichick says Blake Bortles’ rushing skills are similar to Cam Newton’s ... and it’s not THAT absurd

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No, Blake Bortles running the ball isn’t the same as Cam Newton. But it’s not as preposterous as it sounds, either.

Jacksonville Jaguars v New York Giants Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Blake Bortles may be the least respected starting quarterback in the NFL, but New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick found good things to say about the Jaguars passer ahead of their Week 2 matchup.

While he didn’t have much to say about Bortles’ passing skills — for good reason — Belichick said the Jaguars quarterback belongs in the same category as Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson when it comes to mobility.

“He runs well,” Belichick said Wednesday, via NESN. “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.”

If you stifle your laughter for a second, Belichick’s point isn’t that far out of left field.

Newton is the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns among quarterbacks with 55, but Bortles has pushed his name into the all-time conversation too. With 227 career rushing attempts for 1,452 yards, Bortles has averaged 6.4 yards per carry over the course of his career — comfortably ahead of Newton’s 5.2-yard average.

Among quarterbacks with at least 200 career rushing attempts, only Michael Vick (7.0 yards per carry) and Bobby Douglass (6.5 yards per carry) are ahead of Bortles.

Is Bortles as good a rusher as Newton? Nope.

Newton rushes about 7.6 times per game compared to Bortles’ 3.6 times, and he’s averaged 39.8 yards per game compared to Bortles’ 23.0. The higher average for the Jaguars quarterback is a consequence of Bortles taking advantage of defenses who aren’t as ready for a quarterback taking off as they are with the Panthers.

But when Bortles does run, it’s often extremely similar to the way the Panthers use Newton.

Here are the two quarterbacks running the same exact counter option play in Week 1 for big gains:

The Patriots won’t be surprised by Bortles’ rushing ability. In the AFC Championship in January, Bortles finished with negative rushing yardage on only two attempts, so don’t expect him to run wild against New England in Week 2.

But even if you don’t think Bortles is a good quarterback, it’s probably time to respect his rushing ability a bit.