JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Analytics is sweeping through sports. Teams have entire departments devoted to it, and the information compiled can factor heavily into decisions ranging from personnel to strategy to practice schedules to preventing injuries.
Sometimes, though, numbers don't make any sense.
Just look at Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. Statistically, he's one of the NFL's worst quarterbacks in the fourth quarter -- yet he leads the league with four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime.
A look: Second-worst completion percentage (49.6 percent), tied for last with six interceptions, tied for last with 12 sacks, and 28th in passer rating (69.8). Yet he still found a way to rally his team to late victories over Miami, Buffalo, Baltimore and Tennessee.
Even Bortles isn't quite sure how it's working.
"I think as long as things are successful I don't think the completion percentage is as important," Bortles said. "I don't know, because the numbers all kind of correlate to something, right? But I guess if we weren't scoring or struggling a little bit then the completion percentage would be something to worry about. You always want to complete as many balls as possible so I'm not really sure."
Bortles is third in attempts (123) and sixth in the NFL in yards (819) in the fourth quarter, which means he's throwing the ball a lot. That makes sense because the Jaguars have been behind and are averaging just 16.9 yards rushing in the fourth quarter.
"I think just being able to play situational football," Bortles said. "I think a lot of that stuff [incompletions] could be throwaways and different things rather than try to make a play and waste time or a sack. Just getting rid of it so I think trying to be smart with the football and play situational football."
Bortles has thrown seven touchdown passes in the fourth quarter; only Tom Brady (nine), Andrew Luck (nine), Carson Palmer (eight) and Aaron Rodgers (eight) have more. Three of those TD passes put the Jaguars ahead and two -- to Allen Hurns against Buffalo and to Julius Thomas against Tennessee -- put them ahead for good.
Bortles also has thrown six interceptions in the fourth quarter, including two that were returned for touchdowns. Bortles bounced right back from a pick-six against Buffalo and led the Jaguars on the game-winning touchdown drive.
That, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said, is why Bortles has been able to lead those four game-winning drives despite not having great stats in the fourth quarter.
"He is a really mentally strong football player," Olson said. "He'll just go from series to series, from play to play. If something bad happens, it's water off a duck's back to him. He's going out and, 'All right, I threw the interception that last series. What do we have coming up next series so I can think about where I need to execute this next series?'
"He's a player that is completely into the game, completely in the situation, the play clock, the score and what the situation is. He understood the gravity of the interception at that point in the game, knowing that he may not have many more opportunities in the game. Rather than dwell on that, [he says] ‘Let me know what we have coming up so I can start to think about what plays I need to execute here down the stretch.'"