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Open locker room: 'It will only get better'


JACKSONVILLE – The start was a good start – but it was only the beginning.

That's how Blake Bortles in retrospect saw Sunday, and it's how he's moving forward from one of his more productive games of 2016.

Yes, he said, a two-touchdown performance in Nathaniel Hackett's first game as offensive coordinator showed positive strides. But improvement for the offense is still needed.

Bortles on Wednesday said he's confident that improvement will come, and that another week with Hackett as coordinator will help that.

"I think it will help us find a rhythm," Bortles said Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-6) prepared to play the Houston Texans (5-3) in an AFC South game at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Jaguars' offense on Sunday in Kansas City turned in its best game of the season.

After struggling through much of the first seven games of the season, the Jaguars produced a season-high 449 yards total offense. That total included a season-high 205 yards rushing on 32 carries.

"You could tell those guys felt good about it," Bortles said. "Anytime you run for 200 yards in the NFL it's a big day and something to be proud of. One thing is even though we went for 200 we still left a lot of yards on the field.

Because we hadn't done that everybody was excited and saying, 'Look what we did,' but Nathaniel made sure to make a point of the yards we left on the field and things we could do better."

Head Coach Gus Bradley on Monday said there were details regarding approach and situations that Hackett hadn't yet had time to implement to that point in his brief time in the position. But Jaguars players on Wednesday said Hackett's simplified approach eased the transition.

"Everybody figured it would be a bit of a challenge with the change and him taking over, and it really wasn't," Bortles said. "He did a good job of making it a smooth transition and keeping the things we were doing well in and adjusting a couple of things.

"But I think to have a full week going in with no surprises, no turnover and or change or anything like that – I think it will only get better."

Bortles, who has thrown 14 touchdowns with 11 interceptions this season, completed 22 of 41 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns with an interception against the Chiefs. His completion percentage of 53.7 was his second-lowest of the season.

He also had several near-interceptions and missed at least two big plays on downfield passes to wide receiver Allen Robinson.

"We have to continue to work on that," Bortles said. "We've changed some stuff up in practice to where we can get an opportunity to throw some big passes. We've repped that a little bit more so I think that will help out. But I think it comes down to where you can talk about it and say what you're going to do, but you just have to go make the plays."

Bortles called the two balls to Robinson Sunday "just missed throws."

"That happens," Bortles said. "You'd like for it not to happen, but it did. One thing that's cool about Nathaniel is he's not going to shy away because you miss a shot. … He comes back and calls the same play again. I think he's going to continue to call those. I'm going to continue to throw them and I firmly believe we'll start to hit them."

"It feels good, honestly. It's been a while since I've been healthy. It's good to be out there producing a little bit. Being out there for my team – it's legit."
                                                                                                                      --Jaguars WR Marqise Lee

"They [defensive players] are itching for a takeaway. Obviously, we all are. But at the same time we can't press. We were excited to get [the Chiefs] off the grass [Sunday]. But at the same time, we have to try to steal a possession here and there."
                                                                                            --Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash

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