JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This off-season has been unlike any other that Blake Bortles has experienced over this five year NFL career. The Jaguars quarterback looked very comfortable during Organized Team Activities.
In years past he’s had to balance fixing his mechanics, worrying about a contract extension or learning a new offense. All of those things have already been taken care of heading into the 2018 season. Bortles would never use any of those situations as an excuse for the inconsistent play that’s defined his career up to this point.
This will be Bortles’ second season in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system and that’s led to an increased comfort level.
“When you start and have a good knowledge and foundation of the offense and the system and you’re not out there trying to learn it as you’re going through OTA’s, it allows you to do other things,” said Bortles. “Now I can help out and focus on the other things and intricacies and adjustments of the offense. I think it’s been good, the guys have come along really well.”
One thing that has been consistent about Bortles is his cool and calm demeanor. In speaking with the media he’s the same each week no matter if he threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns or if he threw multiple interceptions.
From the outside perspective he looks more confident but Bortles says not much has changed.
“I feel the same,” said Bortles. “Obviously a year in the offense helps out mentally. It feels good to go out there and feel in control of the system. To be able to help guys out and have communication with guys on how to do different things and how we want to run things is big.”
This time a year ago Bortles’ top two receiving threats were Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Both receivers have since departed Jacksonville for Chicago and Dallas respectively. Once minicamp ends on Thursday Bortles plans to meet with his group of pass catchers at some point before training camp starts.
While it’s important to develop on field chemistry during the off-season program, Bortles says it’s just as important to get to know each of his teammates as individuals.
“Anytime you spend time with people you get to learn about them,” said Bortles. “I think that’s important when it comes to playing with somebody. You have to know what type of people they are and be able to create a relationship with them. It’s important to be able to do that. Then you get to see a little bit about what kind of competitor they are. What kind of football player they are. A little bit of that comes out as much as it can without us wearing shoulder pads.”