JACKSONVILLE – These are good times for Blake Bortles.
They're important times, too, and the Jaguars' third-year quarterback talked about both aspects of his 2016 offseason during an appearance on Jaguars.com LIVE Wednesday.
Yes, Bortles is confident he and the Jaguars' offense are ascending – and he's confident he, the team and the offense are moving in the right direction. He also knows this:
There is work ahead.
As he did last offseason, Bortles said he spent time early this offseason in California with passing guru Tom House working on fundamentals. He said his focus this offseason is also on improving mentally.
"Obviously, the big thing to me was the interceptions and the sacks," Bortles told J.P. Shadrick and John Oehser on Jaguars.com LIVE. "You have to cut down both of those. Me and [backup quarterback Chad [Henne] have watched stuff together [this offseason] and tried to figure it out. …
"All of the interceptions were on me, and a lot of the sacks as well."
Bortles, while setting Jaguars single-season records with 35 touchdown passes and 4,428 yards last season, also threw 18 interceptions.
"A lot of it's mental," Bortles said. "Whether it's protection calls, or whether it's reads or [whether it's] not putting the ball in the right place … You'd like to get the interceptions down below 10; down in the single digits would be ideal."
Bortles also said cutting the sacks total in half "would be ideal." The Jaguars allowed 51 sacks last season after allowing a franchise-record 71 in 2014.
While sacks are often attributed to the offensive line, Bortles said quarterbacks have a responsibility there, too. While a quick rush or lineman error sometimes makes a sack unavoidable, Bortles said a quarterback often can control the situation.
"It's kind of knowing it," Bortles said. "If you make the wrong call, you have to know you made the wrong call and you have to throw hot and get the ball out of your hands. The thing they always say is a guy having an internal clock and understanding that.
"You watch the guys who get sacked the least amount of times – the Bradys, the Brees, the Mannings – they get the ball out quick. They understand when to do that and how to do it and when to get the ball in the right places."
Bortles said he feels he and the offense are in a good place entering the offseason. He improved his touchdown-interception ratio from 11-17 as a rookie to 35-18 last season, and the Jaguars scored 23.5 points a game after averaging 15.6 in 2014.
Now, the Jaguars are entering their second season under offensive coordinator Greg Olson, and Bortles said the experience and confidence gained last season should benefit the offense moving forward.
"It came with every week, with every game, with every practice," Bortles said. "You felt more and more comfortable with in it and felt more and more comfortable within the game. I thought it felt that way with our whole offense. …
"As the season went on, guys figured out, 'This is who we are and who we're going to be.' We have the potential to be a really good and explosive offense.' I think guys felt that and toward the end of the season, we really kind of believed in it. I hope that continues to rise and I believe it will."