Bortles: “It’s a challenge”

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JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles has been here before.

“To me, it’s all the same,” he said.

As such, the Jaguars’ fifth-year quarterback said he is facing his latest round of adversity pretty much as he has faced many, many rounds the past four seasons.

“There are problems, and there are challenges,” Bortles said Wednesday as the Jaguars (3-7) prepared to play the Buffalo Bills (3-7) at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York, Sunday at 1 p.m. “You either find a way to overcome them or you don’t. You live with the consequences one way or the other. It’s a challenge for me and I think for everybody individually – and for us as a unit.

“I have all the confidence in the world we’ll fight through this thing together and come out the other side.”

The latest adversity for Bortles:

A six-game losing streak that has dwindled the Jaguars’ fading playoff hopes by the week, a streak in which the offense has produced less than 260 yards in three of the last five games.

Included in that stretch: a 20-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday in which Bortles completed 10 of 18 passes for 108 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Bortles, who was sacked six times and pressured throughout, had seven yards passing on two attempts in the fourth quarter as the Steelers rallied from a 10-point deficit.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone on Monday said the team did not plan to replace Bortles in the lineup and offensive coordinator Nate Hackett said Tuesday Bortles deserved to remain the starter.

Bortles during his weekly media availability Wednesday fielded a variety of questions, including the direction he thought team might take in the offseason.

The Jaguars won the AFC South last season for the first time and advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the first time in 18 seasons. They are now in last place in the AFC South, four games behind division-leading Houston (7-3) and two games behind Indianapolis (5-5) and Tennessee (5-5).

“I have no idea,” Bortles said. “Obviously we know what happened last year. I know the feeling coming into this season was really good and (we had) high expectations. We’ve had some key guys go down – a good amount of them – on the offensive side of the ball and that kind of changes things.”

The following offensive players are on injured reserve and/or are out for the season: left tackles Cam Robinson and Josh Wells, running back Corey Grant, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, wide receiver Marqise Lee, tight end Miles Paul, center Brandon Linder and wide receiver/punt returner Jaydon Mickens. 

Running back Leonard Fournette missed six of the first eight games of the season with a hamstring injury, and Ereck Flowers this past Sunday became the team’s fourth starting left tackle.

“That’s going to happen in the NFL.; you’re going to lose guys and have guys get hurt,” Bortles said. “You have to be able to have guys who can plug in and play and continue to find ways to win football games. I have no idea what their thinking or what they’re going to do.

“I know we have six more chances to try to persuade them one way or the other.”

Bortles on Wednesday was asked about the difference between now and the last time the Jaguars played the Bills – a 10-3 Jaguars victory in the AFC Wild Card Playoff in Jacksonville in January. 

“It’s the beast of the NFL, and how things go,” Bortles said. “Anybody can beat anyone on any given Sunday. You’ve seen the Super Bowl champs (the 4-6 Philadelphia Eagles) kind of have not the start I’m sure a Super Bowl champion wants. It speaks to how different variables go into the season as far as injuries and things not going your way.”

Bortles said Head Coach Doug Marrone’s message to the team Wednesday is the only way to approach the rest of season.

“You’ve got six more opportunities to go win,” he said. “We had a good meeting this morning and got a chance to hear from some coaches offensively – just being grateful for the opportunity to play these six games. It’s six more weeks to spend with this team and go try to and capture each one of these opportunities and find a way to win ballgames.

“We have to get on track and find ways to win football games no matter how we do it or what the score is. We’ve got to win a football game and find a way out.”

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