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NFL Scouting Combine: "A decision for the future"


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – This decision was about the future as much as the present.

When it came to the Jaguars' recent contract extension for quarterback Blake Bortles, that was the word from the team's decision-makers Wednesday.

"We were excited about that," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said of the team's move this past Saturday to extend Bortles' contract through 2020.

Marrone and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell both spoke to the media Wednesday during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, with Caldwell specifying that the extension means that that team sees the fourth-year veteran as its quarterback of the future.

"He's not a placeholder," Caldwell said. "This wasn't a decision where he's going to be here for a year and we'll keeping our eyes out [for another quarterback]. We'll always look to upgrade our team every year, but this was a decision for the future.

"This was about a guy that can grow into the guy for the long-term."

Caldwell added that the team's perception of Bortles is different than that of many observers. Bortles threw for 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions this past season, in which the Jaguars won their first division title since 1999.

They also advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1999.

"The [outside] narrative about him and the perception about him is much different [than inside the team],'' Caldwell said. "We base our decision on facts. If you look at him statistically through his first four years, everybody said, 'Well, he was doing it but they weren't winning games.' Now we're winning games but 'his stats aren't what they should be.'

"All I heard was, 'We can't have a winning season with him, we can't make the playoffs, we can't win the division, we're going to be one and done in the playoffs.' He's just proven them wrong on a lot of those bases. Not just him, but the team."

Caldwell also was asked about Bortles being criticized by opponents this past season, with players such as Jadeveon Clowney of Houston and Earl Thomas of Seattle criticizing him in the wake of Jaguars victories over those teams.

"If it doesn't bother him, it doesn't bother me," Caldwell said. "His teammates have shown what they think of him – throughout the playoffs and some of the stuff after some of the wins. You guys [the media] have seen and heard from some of our best players on him: 'We go like he goes.'

"If anything, it [the criticism] has helped us."

Marrone said Bortles showed throughout the 2017 season "that he was progressing, getting better."

"Obviously, when you give a player a contract you're looking for more," Marrone said. "We always are. It's no different than any other position. We need to come in and play better than we did before. I was happy to get that done before coming here. I think it's a good situation and one where we're both working to get better."

Marrone discussed the importance of not only retaining Bortles, but the entire coaching staff including offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich. This past season was Hackett's first full season as coordinator.

"For Blake, having the same continuity with Coach Hackett as his offensive coordinator and Scott Milanovich as his quarterbacks coach, we're looking to see great improvement from him coming into this season," Marrone said.

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