JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles was back in town this weekend, and he likes what he did when he was away.
Bortles, the Jaguars' starting quarterback and one of the franchise's most important 2017 offseason issues, spoke to the media Sunday before his charity golf tournament at the King and Bear at the World Golf Village. As might be expected, the topics covered:
*The pressure he faces next season.
*And so on, and so on …
First things first: Bortles said he likes where he is mechanically having spent much of the past two months working with his personal quarterbacks coaches in California: Tom House and Adam Dedeaux.
"I've really enjoyed the time I've spent out there," Bortles said. "I think it's really been beneficial. I feel really good as far as where I'm at mechanically and how the ball's coming out and how it's spinning and all that. I think it's been good."
Bortles also said he feels healthy after playing through a shoulder separation and wrist tendinitis at times last season.
"Everything's good – good to go," he said.
Bortles, who has struggled with mechanics at times in three NFL seasons, threw for a franchise-record 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2015 after focusing on the area with his quarterbacks coaches in the 2015 offseason. He worked mostly in Jacksonville in the 2016 offseason, and struggled with mechanics throughout most of a season in which he threw 23 touchdowns, 3,905 yards and 16 interceptions.
"The first thing we focused on was, probably what everybody would guess … just trying to tighten up the release, make that as quick as possible," Bortles said.
Bortles said that entailed never letting his right wrist get below the elbow while throwing, and "trying to keep that parallel and not dropping down."
"That was probably the main focus and then just a couple tweaks here and there in different things," he said.
Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2014 NFL Draft, said while the issue didn't take long to fix, the first week "wasn't pretty."
"It didn't look good and that's a part of it," he said. "When you're trying to change things, it's not going to be great but we were able to kind of hash that out and now it's going well."
Bortles said he now liked what he sees when he watches tape.
"It looks better," Bortles said. "It's more efficient, quicker and all that stuff."
Bortles added that he knows the only true test will come next season, saying "There's only one way to figure that out and that's go and play.
"It's tough," he added. "Obviously the physical stuff – you want to try and knock that out now at this point in the offseason, try and get all that stuff to stick, so just the constant repetition of trying to make that muscle memory or whatever."
Bortles said he will return to the West Coast for about two weeks before returning to Jacksonville for the start of the team's offseason program in April. He said he plans to spend part of that time in Arizona throwing with Jaguars wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. He said he worked some with Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee in California already this offseason.
Bortles also on Sunday discussed the Jaguars' decision to retain Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. Hackett served as the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach in 2015 and during the first seven games of 2016 before taking over as offensive coordinator.
"I felt toward the end of the season I was kind of able to really find a good rhythm with Nathaniel Hackett and the way he was calling plays and what we were doing," Bortles said. "There were still some boneheaded plays and bad plays, but I think they were significantly reduced and I think it'll only continue to be less. …
"[I] had a relationship with him and he was my quarterback coach for two years, so we spent a lot of time together and were able to kind of form that relationship and that chemistry. And now that he's taken over as the play caller, his role changes a little bit as far as what he has to be in charge of and pay attention to, but I'm excited for it. I look forward to working with him and I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
Bortles said while he expects some changes in terminology, he said he expects the 2017 offense to use "a lot of the same concepts, similar stuff … just changing words."
Bortles on Sunday also:
*Commented on comments made by Robinson at the Super Bowl that he expects focus to be high among the Jaguars' young players this offseason. "I would say there's definitely nobody, I don't think, that's going to be comfortable anymore," Bortles said. "Maybe he's right in the sense as far as what we did, how we went about it. I know how hard they're working, him and Hurns. I know how hard Marqise is working. I know what I'm doing. I think it's going to be a lot of fun." …
*Said he considers offseason talk about the importance of the 2017 for his career "irrelevant," saying "It's a big as however you want it to be, but regardless we've got to be here on April 10 and we've got to show up for camp in August and eventually they're going to start playing football games. … I'm excited to just go play football and enjoy that."