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Open Locker Room: Bortles able to respond, rebound


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles is looking ahead, and moving forward.

He's doing it not because of a four-game losing streak, or because the Jaguars are playing at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday. Rather, it's because as an NFL quarterback, that's what you must do – good game or bad, win or lose.

Jaguars teammates will tell you that's part of why the second-year veteran has a bright future – and why he's the right guy to be quarterbacking a young, developing team.

And moving forward from a difficult game?

Well, that's what Bortles was doing Wednesday as the Jaguars prepared in Jacksonville before making the trip to London Thursday night.

"I usually take Mondays to kind of mull around a little bit, and learn from it, but after Monday, I think you have to let it go," Bortles said as the Jaguars (1-5) prepared to play the Buffalo Bills (3-3) at Wembley Stadium in London, England, Sunday.

"You have to take what you can and learn from it. I know this is all repetitive, but you learn from it and move on and get into the next game plan."

Bortles, in his second season, has now started 19 NFL games. He has shown progress this season, throwing 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He is on pace to break significant franchise passing records, and he is vastly improved from a rookie season when he threw 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

He also has experienced the inconsistencies of a young NFL quarterback, and has at times this season shown the tendency he had as a rookie to throw key interceptions.

What Bortles also has shown teammates is the ability to withstand those inconsistences – and the ability to continue to lead during short- and long-term adversity.

"I don't think Blake really cares about anybody outside, the naysayers," Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "He's not that type of guy. Somebody in his position, they (fans and observers) want you to be perfect. You know how it is for quarterbacks in this league: they want you to be perfect and there's really no room for error.

"We easily could have three or four wins this year. We haven't, and we're in a position where everybody's starting to poke at us, but he understands his job on this team is to lead us. He knows if he's not in the right mindset that's going to rub off on guys in the wrong way.

"That's just who he is. He doesn't need too much talking to. He gets it."

Bortles this past Sunday threw three touchdown passes and three interceptions in a 31-20 loss to Houston. One interception came near the goal line late in the first half and the other was returned for a touchdown.

Bortles on Wednesday called the interception before halftime "just bad situational football" and a situation where he just "tried to do too much. Overall, he said the Jaguars need to continue improving communication and staying on the same page throughout the game.

"The attention to detail continues to be a point of emphasis," Bortles said.

Bortles also on Wednesday discussed his ability to control emotions during a game, something he and Head Coach Gus Bradley have discussed.

"Me and Gus had a conversation a while ago about body language and how it could affect the team," Bortles said. "Being a quarterback, that's kind of part of the role. What you do, whether you know it or not, guys are always kind of looking at you and seeing how you react to things.

"That's part of it, being able to stay upbeat and being able to have a short memory and move on when things don't go your way. I think it's something I worked on and gotten better at."

Added Bortles, "You throw an interception, you make a mistake … it bothers you; it should bother you because it means something to you. I think I'm able to forget that and move on and be ready by the next play."

Bortles said he would never yell at a receiver for a dropped pass, and never would expect a receiver to yell at him for an interception, adding that most emotion he shows is self-directed.

"Like I've told (quarterbacks coach Nathaniel) Nate (Hackett) and (offensive coordinator Greg) Oley (Olson): very rarely do I get mad at somebody else," Bortles said. "I'll get mad at somebody when it's something in their control and they didn't execute it, but I'll get mad at myself for way more things.

"Usually, if you think I'm mad I'm just mad at myself."

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