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Notes and observation: Coordinator Thursday


JACKSONVILLE – Nate Hackett wasn't aware of the statistic.

Once he was told that quarterback Blake Bortles had thrown just three interceptions in his last seven regular-season games, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator wasn't all that surprised.

"He's being more efficient," Hackett said of Bortles Thursday as the Jaguars (2-1) prepared to play the New York Jets (1-2) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Hackett, who took over as offensive coordinator with nine games remaining last season, has held the position for 12 games. Bortles' interceptions have decreased dramatically in that span.

Bortles, who threw 51 interceptions in his first three NFL seasons, threw 44 of those interceptions in 37 games before Hackett took over as coordinator. In Hackett's 12 games as coordinator, Bortles has thrown nine interceptions. That total includes two in three games this season.

Bortles during the first 37 games of his career went nine games without throwing an interception. He has six such games in his last nine games.

"We always harp, every day, 'It's efficiency, it's efficiency,''' Hackett said. "It's understanding why the play was called. What are we trying to accomplish? If it's there, you have to learn how to take it.  At the same time, if it's not there, you have to learn how to not take it.

"That's a hard thing in the NFL, especially when you've had three different systems and you've gotten hit 150 times in your career. For him to stay strong and believe and truly understand more about the system and what we're trying to accomplish is what's so great about his play right now.

"It's just about believing in the system and his own eyes."

All three Jaguars coordinators – Hackett on offense, Todd Wash on defense and Joe DeCamillis on special teams – spoke to the media Thursday.

Notes and observations from Coordinator Thursday:

*Running back Leonard Fournette has received credit for the rushing offense becoming the foundation of the Jaguars' offensive approach – understandable considering Fournette's status as the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. But Hackett said veteran running back Chris Ivory shouldn't be overlooked. Ivory has rushed for 76 yards on 21 carries with six receptions for 67 yards. "I can't speak enough for his play up to this point, just focusing in and doing something he hasn't done a lot in his career," Hackett said. "He's really owned it and taken it and ran with it, which is awesome to see."

*The Jaguars' defense ranks No. 1 in the NFL in passing defense and No. 3 overall. They have allowed 51 points, including 31 in the second half of a 37-16 Week 2 loss to Tennessee. The Jaguars responded to allowing touchdowns on the final four series of that game by shutting out Baltimore until the final five minutes of a 44-7 victory this past Sunday. "They have some confidence and two quarters isn't really going to affect them long term," Wash said of the Jaguars' defense. "We knew going into the game they [the Jaguars' defensive players] had some confidence in their abilities and obviously our ability as a unit. We going in we were confident, and then some things happened in our favor that allowed us to get up on them. When we're ahead of people, I think we have a pretty good front four and a back end that can cover and rush." The Jaguars have yet to allow a first-half touchdown this season and they also lead the NFL with 13 sacks. They are tied for second in the NFL with Detroit with eight takeaways after forcing just 13 turnovers last season. …

*Starting wide receiver Marqise Lee has handled punt-return duties this season for the Jaguars. While some NFL teams avoid playing front-line skill players in prominent special teams roles, Head Coach Doug Marrone has been clear since taking the position that offensive and defensive starters and key contributors will play special teams. DeCamillis on Thursday said there is a simple, immediate reason for keeping Lee on returns. "You have to have quality punt-catchers," DeCamillis said. "That's the biggest key right now, is 'Who's the best guy on your team to do it?' That's in our opinion Marqise right now." …

*Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) practiced on a full-participation basis Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. Wide receiver Jaelen Strong (hamstring), linebacker Donald Payne (hamstring) and defensive end Lerentee McCray (knee) missed practice for a second consecutive day while center Brandon Linder (knee), defensive tackle Malik Jackson (groin) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (groin) worked limited. Bortles (right wrist), left tackle Cam Robinson (shoulder) and linebacker Myles Jack (ankle) worked full Thursday. ..

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