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View from the O-Zone: The right mindset

Posted Jun 14, 2017

Oehser: Words won’t make Blake Bortles great, but the Jaguars’ fourth-year quarterback has the right mindset and right approach as the most important season of his career draws near


 

JACKSONVILLE – Wednesday’s theme was obvious.

It’s the only possible takeaway from Day 2 of Jaguars 2017 minicamp, and it’s the best possible theme for this organization as it heads into to the offseason.

Blake Bortles gets it.

He’s focused.

His intentions are correct.

His approach is sound.

His plan makes sense.

His mindset is right.

“My goal is for us and this team and this organization to be extremely successful,” Bortles said Wednesday on Day 2 of the team’s three-day 2017 mandatory minicamp. “We haven’t for the three years since I’ve been here. … This is what I do. It’s our job. It’s my passion. I’m going to exhaust every resource I have to make this thing work.”

Bortles toward that end on Wednesday said he is planning to spend the next month – his final weeks before the opening of 2017 Training Camp in July – in California working with his personal quarterbacks coaches and continuing the offseason-long process of solidifying the mechanics that failed him at times last season.

He’s trying to squeeze as much preparation as possible from the final few weeks before what he knows will be a critical season for the team and for his career.

“I’ll be there the whole month we’re off,” he said.

Asked to describe his mindset as the offseason begins, Bortles replied:

“Football-oriented, I guess,” he said, adding, “I want to be able to show up here in July in the best shape possible and be ready to go. We have a lot of work to do.”

Yes, the Jaguars’ fourth-year quarterback was saying the right things Wednesday as he spoke to the media for the last time during the Jaguars’ 2017 offseason program, and he’s planning on doing the right things in the coming weeks. That doesn’t guarantee anything, and it would be disingenuous to imply otherwise, but it is the best news Jaguars observers could get after the 2017 offseason.

Indeed, he is doing all he can to put himself in a position to succeed.

And for now, that’s all to be asked of the most important player in this organization.

This is not to imply that Bortles deserves applause for planning to work the next four weeks, and it only makes sense on one level that he would do everything possible to succeed in a season that likely will set the tone for the rest of his career.

But spending the coming month working is indeed a sign that the necessary focus is there for the Jaguars’ most important player.

Bortles was asked Wednesday if it was a sign of maturity.

“I don’t know … a little bit,” Bortles said. “Two years ago I went out there and last year I stayed [in Jacksonville] the whole time. …”

Bortles also talked of the presence of Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, of Head Coach Doug Marrone, and of players being comfortable in the offense of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Mostly, he talked of doing what is necessary to not feel as they have felt in recent seasons.

“It just feels as though guys are sick and tired of being below average and not being successful when we feel as though we have the ability to be a good team – and we haven’t been,” Bortles said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. We have to do something about it.”

This wasn’t the first time Bortles has talked of that feeling this offseason. Bortles and other young Jaguars veterans – the players who are supposed to now be the team’s core – indeed have talked for the last few months of this being a critical time.

They get that the talk can no longer be of the future. They get that winning must happen – now – and Bortles in a sense summed up a lot of that offseason talk Wednesday when meeting with the media for the final time this offseason.

Now, make no mistake:

Words won’t make Bortles great, and it’s true that Bortles always has been pitch-perfect when it comes to speaking with the media. He is willing to discuss his flaws, and always has seemed self-aware when it comes to his strengths and weaknesses.

But neither should what he said Wednesday – or his approach this offseason – be ignored. Just because this is a critical offseason doesn’t mean he had to approach everything right. Just because it’s clear to many he needed to hone his fundamentals didn’t mean he had to go to California for extended work not once but twice. Just because this is a critical offseason doesn’t mean he had to do things the right way; many quarterbacks don’t.

Bortles did, and while that doesn’t guarantee success for he or the Jaguars next season, the fact that he is doing all he possible can is a good sign – for him and the franchise.

His intentions are correct. His mindset is right. His plan is sound.

And right now, that’s all you can ask from the franchise’s most important player.

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