Jags’ Bortles awaits chance ‘to show that wasn’t who we are’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles would welcome a short week.
Less time to rehash. Fewer days to stew. A quick turnaround that could dampen the disappointment of the season opener.
”When adversity or something strikes that doesn’t go your way, you’ve got to have the mindset to wait and see what you do next time,” Bortles said Wednesday. ”As a team and as an offense we have that. With kind of a lackluster performance, we want to get out there and kind of show that wasn’t who we are and be better.”
Bortles will have to wait until Sunday for a chance at redemption. And when the Jaguars (0-1) take the field against the Miami Dolphins (1-0), all eyes will be on Bortles to see how he bounces back from his worst outing in nearly a year.
Bortles completed 22 of 40 passes for 183 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions in a 20-9 loss to Carolina. Bortles was sacked five times and didn’t get the Jaguars to midfield after halftime.
His first interception was returned for a touchdown early in the third quarter – it was the fifth pick-six he’s thrown in 14 career starts – and turned out to be the play of the game.
”It felt like guys were there, they wanted to make plays, they wanted opportunities, they wanted balls in their hands and we just missed out on it whether it be a drop or missed throw,” Bortles said. ”We didn’t capture the moment and didn’t get a chance to overcome that adversity.”
Coach Gus Bradley said the offense was too cautious, not nearly as aggressive as planned.
”I don’t remember a game coming out where I didn’t say I wish we would have thrown the ball down the field more,” Bortles said. ”As a quarterback you always want to do that. As a unit we want to be more aggressive and kind of make more of a statement of who we are and our aggression.”
It didn’t help that three receivers dropped passes – two of them on third down – that left tackle Luke Joeckel left before halftime with an ankle injury and that receiver Marqise Lee missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Bradley responded by heightening the level of competition during practice Wednesday, specifically for his young receivers.
The coach offered one point for every catch in drills and minus-one point for every drop. There were still nine drops, some of them due to the rain-soaked field, but Bradley hopes that number will dwindled by Sunday.
”Tried to make it a more high-stakes environment to make our guys to perform in that type of environment, and then if adversity does hit, how to quickly respond, ”Bradley said.
The Jaguars have one of the youngest receiving corps in the league, a group that features three second-year pros – Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns – and rookie Rashad Greene. But drops were an issue throughout the preseason, so their performance in the opener was hardly a surprise.
”They’re not yelling at me when I throw a ball 5 yards over their head out of bounds, so I’m not going to do the same thing to them when they drop a pass,” Bortles said. ”Those are things that were addressed and we’re going to continue to work at it.”
Bortles also declined to blame play-calling, saying ”I couldn’t imagine calling a game. That’s a difficult task for sure.”
When asked about fans who blamed new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, he said, ”It’s like a kindergartener saying something to a kid in college.”
That comment probably won’t sit well with fans and might make Sunday’s game even more important for Bortles.
”Every time we step on the field, we expect to go out and execute, put drives together and stay on the field and go out and score points,” he said. ”That’s what we expect of ourselves and anything less than that is a letdown.”
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