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View from the O-Zone: All Bortles all the time


JACKSONVILLE – Nearly three weeks in, the No. 1 story remains the No. 1 story.

All Blake Bortles all the time?

Is that your impression of Jaguars 2017 Training Camp?

If so, you have been paying attention. Because although there have been plenty of Jaguars stories in '17 camp, there is only one No. 1 Story. That's Bortles.

The topic on Tuesday, as expected: Bortles' arm, which became a topic when Head Coach Doug Marrone gave backup Chad Henne a half-practice of first-team repetitions Sunday because Bortles' arm looked tired.

"My arm is fine," Bortles said Tuesday. "It feels good.  I'll be all right."

Bortles also was asked about reps, which became a topic because arm fatigue became a topic. Marrone had said during the offseason that Bortles' offseason/training-camp throws would increase compared to past seasons.

"It's not even close," Bortles said. "I've taken more reps in this camp than probably the last three years all combined. … That was something in talking with Marrone and [Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett, that I knew they had done that in the past.

"They had their reasons and philosophies on why they do it. I totally agree with it."

The pressing question: How is Bortles doing with those repetitions?

Both Marrone and Bortles were asked versions of this Tuesday, and both were forthcoming that improvement must come.

Go inside Tuesday's practice as the Jaguars hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second joint practice this week.

Marrone was asked about Bortles' downfield accuracy, which made sense because Bortles on Tuesday missed a wide-open rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole deep downfield for what would have been a touchdown.

"When anyone asks me about someone's ability – and a lot of times that comes with the quarterback – they are always like 'Hey, where are you?  How did his week go? Are you happy with him?''' Marrone said. "For me personally, I'm always trying to get more. So for me I'm one of those guys that it's hard for me to say. There are some throws that I'll think, 'Hey, that's a good throw,' and then I'll be like, 'That's a horse- throw.' At the end of the day, I'm just trying to get more and get better."

Marrone then discussed Bortles' play since Sunday.

"I thought he came back and really had no issues for these two days," Marrone said. "That was the goal, was to get him out here and get him all that work. I think he's gotten good work."

Bortles for his part reiterated on Tuesday what he has said previously in '17 camp – that there are areas he must improve, and that he feels comfortable in coordinator Nathanial Hackett's scheme. He also noted that it's sometimes overlooked that this is the offense's first year in this scheme, with Hackett installing his system in the offseason after running former coordinator Greg Olson's scheme for the final seven weeks of last season.

"It still is our first camp in the system with Coach Hackett and I think guys have done a good job – definitely still a lot to improve on," he said, adding, "We've shown day-in and day-out how good we can be and then we've shown day-in and day-out how stupid some of the stuff we do is.

"You never want somebody to mess up and say, 'I don't know.' Everybody knows what they're supposed to do.  They know what their job is and how to do it, it's just kind of a lack of focus of whatever you want to call it. Hackett kind of talks about three things: hear the call, know the call and do your job.

"When we get all 11 guys on the same page and doing that every single play we'll be fine."

Tuesday was the last open-to-the-public practice for the Jaguars in '17 camp, and in a sense it defined camp thus far for Bortles. Yes, he missed Cole deep – and he also had a throw that led wide receiver Allen Robinson too far out of bounds. Bortles wasn't perfect.

But he also had good work in the red-zone, completing touchdown passes on four of five plays at one point. He, too, showed touch on a few deep passes, including one deep pass down the sideline that Robinson caught over cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for the highlight play of the day.

Bortles throughout camp has made that throw consistently, and it's fair to say it's becoming a throw on which the offense can rely. He has completed it to Robinson routinely, and he has completed to wide receiver Marqise Lee throughout camp consistently as well.

So, the verdict as open practices end? Good and not-so-good. Up-and-down.

While he still very much must improve, he still is very much the Jaguars' starting quarterback, and make no mistake:

Three weeks in, the No. 1 story remains the No. 1 story.

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