JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Monday that was around EverBank Field the day after a loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3 of the 2016 NFL season
"HE WANTS TO PLAY BETTER"
A day later, Blake Bortles remained a focal point.
Questions about the third-year quarterback's early-season struggles dominated Head Coach Gus Bradley's press conference a day after a late-game loss to Baltimore, but Bradley remained clear in his support of Bortles.
Bradley also made clear that six turnovers in two weeks have left Bortles "hurting."
"There's no doubt about it," Bradley said. "He puts a weight on his shoulders. Like any quarterback, he's going to be his own worst critic and if there's criticism he's going to accept that. He's put a lot on him right now. He wants to play better and give more to this team."
Bortles completed 24 of 38 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, and played well for the most part in the second and third quarters. But he was intercepted three times, including twice in the fourth quarter.
He also was intercepted in the first quarter after narrowly averting what could have been an interception returned for a touchdown early in the game.
"His accuracy is up," Bradley said. "I'm hoping he isn't at [at the point] where he's trying to put it all on him and it's created some anxiety and now he's pushing himself. Now you're seeing some inconsistency at times. That's been some of my conversation with him."
Bradley spoke to Bortles at length in the Jaguars' EverBank Field locker room about 30 minutes after Sunday's game.
"I was just seeing how he was doing, giving my unwavering support for him," Bradley said.
Bradley lauded Bortles' play at times Sunday, noting that his 63.1 completion percentage was strong. But Bortles also missed chances for big plays, narrowly missing wide receiver Marqise Lee for a possible long first-half touchdown and missing tight end Julius Thomas deep down the seam for a would-be long second-quarter gain.
"Like everybody, you want more from everybody," Bradley said. "For him, he looks and there are missed opportunities out there for explosive plays. We only had three explosive plays on offense. That's not who we are, and when you take a look at them it's not that the routes weren't designed. There were opportunities for explosive plays; we just missed them.
"When you watch the tape, you're going to see opportunities that are out there. We just didn't hit them. He's not unwilling. That's one thing I pointed out. Blake Bortles has no fear. He will take some chances. He feels bad. He felt like he let the team down and didn't give them everything he had to offer, but that's like everybody in that locker room. That's like the coaching staff as well."
Jaguars linebacker Hayes Pullard III left Sunday's game with a left ankle sprain and did not return while tight end Julius Thomas (elbow) and linebacker Dan Skuta (strained hip muscle) returned after sustaining injuries.
Cornerback Davon House played through cramping after being taken inside for treatment, and running back Chris Ivory played after sustaining a right knee and left ankle sprain.
Right tackle Kelvin Beachum remains in the concussion protocol after missing Sunday's game. He sustained the concussion in the fourth quarter of a Week 2 loss at San Diego.
The Jaguars' fourth-quarter play-calling on back-to-back drives that began in Ravens territory has been questioned since Sunday, with many observers wondering why the Jaguars ran on three of six plays with a one-point lead. The Jaguars had struggled to run much of the game, finishing the game with 48 yards on 21 carries. "We talked about it during OTAs and training camp that we've got to be able to be a team that can run it when they know we're going to run," Bradley said. "That's what we didn't get done [Sunday]. You have to do it so they use their timeouts, and we were looking to get a first down. We wanted to strain our guys that, 'This is a must time. We've got to be able to run the ball here.''' Bradley specified that he stood by Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson's calls in that situation.
… NOTABLE II
While the Jaguars improve in the area of penalties, Bradley said they didn't improve enough. "The total number of penalties went down and the total of foolish penalties went down, but we still had some," Bradley said, noting defensive tackle Malik Jackson's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a hand to the head of the quarterback at the end of the second quarter and a "leverage" penalty on defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. on the same drive. Jackson's penalty extended the drive and Fowler's gave the Ravens an untimed down that resulted in a 42-yard field goal. "That was a big emphasis: sure it went down, but it's still not good enough," Bradley said.