75ºF

Bortles welcomes challenge of spreading ball around

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars coach Gus Bradley admitted last week that this is the best personnel that the team has had since he arrived in Jacksonville. Expectations are higher for this franchise than they’ve been at any point during the past decade. One of the main reasons surrounding that hope is an offense that scored 376 points last season (the second most by any Jaguars team this century).

In 2015 quarterback Blake Bortles set single season franchise marks in passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35). This offseason the Jaguars added Chris Ivory to improve their running game. When you add Ivory to an offensive core that already included Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and T.J. Yeldon, that's a lot of offensive firepower. On a lot teams it would be a challenge to keep that many players happy but Bortles say’s that isn’t the case here in Jacksonville.

“What’s cool about the team is and what’s cool for Olson [Greg] is he doesn’t have to worry about getting A-Rob [Allen Robinson] five balls, Hurns [Allen] five balls, and J.T. [Julius Thomas] five balls,” said Bortles. “They don’t really care. Yes they want to be successful and be involved and make big plays. But when we’re moving the ball and rolling everybody is happy and excited to be a part of it. For me to be able to throw to option A, C, D or F they’re all extremely good players that can go and make plays.”

Last season Bortles was able to produce the numbers listed above with wide receivers Rashad Green Sr., Marquise Lee and tight end Julius Thomas all missing time with injuries. Now that the Jaguars have their entire arsenal available, opposing teams won’t be able to focus on a single player.  

“To look at our personnel, it’s pretty scary,” said Thomas. “We have a ton of talent. How much respect you have for the guys that are in the huddle with you is something that’s unique. It’s something that we should and have to take advantage of if we want to get to our goals. That goal is to win our division.”

Greene, who has now tacked Sr. on to the end of his name, had 19 catches for 93 yards and two scores in 2015. Bortles expects him to be an even bigger contributor to the offense this season.

“I thought he had an impressive rookie season,” said Bortles. “I also think he’s had an extremely good camp. He’s a guy that’s reliable and at practice every single day he’s ready to go. He’s smart and gives us something with his ability to stop and start in the slot. He’s really great at running choice routes inside that not a lot of people can do or defend.”

During the preseason the Jaguars offense showed signs of good and bad. They know that Sunday will be a challenge because the Packers have won the NFC North division four out of the past five years.  

“Green Bay is a good team and they usually are every single year,” said Bortles. “It’s an opportunity for us to go out and rise to the level of our expectations and play well. We expect to play well.”