JACKSONVILLE – Nathaniel Hackett didn't hesitate.
The subject: where quarterback Blake Bortles stands a bit more than midway through the 2017 season, and Hackett – the Jaguars' offensive coordinator – made it clear Thursday he thinks the fourth-year veteran is standing pretty tall.
"Blake has been playing very well – very, very well this whole year," Hackett said Thursday as the Jaguars (6-3) prepared to play the Cleveland Browns (0-9) at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Hackett said that was true this past Sunday in a 20-17 overtime victory against San Diego.
Bortles threw three bad second-half passes Sunday – including two interceptions in the final two minutes that Hackett called "unacceptable" – but Hackett said considering the pressure from one of the NFL's best pass rushes, Bortles' performance throughout most of Sunday was impressive.
"He's understanding what we're asking, how to get completions, how to take shots," Hackett said. "He threw the ball 50 times [Sunday], and when you throw the ball 50 times and you're getting hit like that, at some point it's going give. He still has to learn how to control that. He still has to learn to throw it away.
"Once we can get it him to that point, that's when it's going to step it up even more. But that whole game, the things that he did – the toughness and grit he shows – were just incredible."
Hackett said Bortles' ability to avoid and respond to pressure has been key to the Jaguars' offense throughout the season.
"The great thing about Blake is he after being hit and rushed that many times can keep his composure, and continue to keep doing it," Hackett said. "It doesn't really phase him. I think that's always something he does really well."
All three Jaguars coordinators – Hackett on offense, Todd Wash on defense and Joe DeCamillis on special teams – spoke to the media Thursday, as did rookie running back Leonard Fournette.
Notes and observations from Coordinator Thursday:
*Credit Fournette for honesty. Asked about playing in potential 30-degree temperatures and snow Sunday, Fournette on Thursday said, "I'm not looking forward to playing in the snow, playing in the cold." Told the cold was "running-back" weather, Fournette laughed. "It might be to you, not to me," he said. "I hate the cold, period. I sleep in the heat; that's how I grew up. I have to get ready, that's all." Fournette, who rushed for 596 yards and six touchdowns in the first six games of the season, missed two games before rushing for a career-low 33 yards on 17 carries this past Sunday against the Chargers. The victory marked Fournette's first NFL game without a touchdown. "Everybody tries their best to stop our running game," he said. "They put nine or ten in the box. It happens. We're just trying to move on." …
*Wide receiver Allen Hurns (ankle) missed practice for a second consecutive day, as did right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee) and left guard Patrick Omameh (quad), while wide receiver Arrelious Benn (knee) missed practice after working limited Wednesday; wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee), defensive end Dawuane Smoot (knee) and linebacker Blair Brown (hamstring) worked on a limited basis after missing practice Wednesday. Linebacker Lerentee McCray (foot) worked full after working limited Wednesday, and quarterback Blake Bortles (right wrist/illness) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (back) both worked full for a second consecutive day. Fournette (ankle) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) worked on a limited basis for a second consecutive day. …
*Wash praised Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer, noting that the rookie had one of his better games of the season this past Sunday in a 38-24 loss to Detroit. Kizer has four touchdowns and 12 interceptions in eight starts, completing 21 of 37 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown Sunday. "He has an extremely strong arm," Wash said. "Any throw he needs, he can do. But you see he's feeling more confident and he's completing a lot more balls. You see him maturing each and every game. We know we're going to face a good quarterback." …
*DeCamillis lauded guard/center Tyler Shatley and fullback Tommy Bohanon Sunday for filling for long snapper Matt Overton after the latter left with a shoulder injury. Shatley snapped on placements and Bohanon snapped on punts following Overton's season-ending injury. "Tommy had three punts that he had to go out there and snap," DeCamillis said. "That's never been done by me, I can tell you that. And for Shatley to do what he did is just incredible. [Assistant special teams coordinator Mike Mallory] takes them out on Wednesdays and they snap. For them to come through like that is clutch for both of them. It helped us win the game. In my opinion it won the game for us in the field department, for sure." …