Jaguars QB Bortles under microscope amid up-and-down camp
By MARK LONG
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is being analyzed and criticized like never before.
His mistakes are mostly magnified. His successes are often overlooked. His daily practice stats have become a social media staple.
It's what happens to top-five draft picks these days, especially those who fail to meet sky-high expectations after three years and countless opportunities.
That's how Bortles' five-interception performance made headlines. That's how his "tired arm" situation looked like a potential benching . That's how a video of his star receiver expressing a little frustration went viral.
"There's definitely things to improve on, things to be better at," Bortles said Tuesday. "I feel comfortable with the system and the scheme and everything that we're doing. ... As an offense, I think one thing that is overlooked is it's the first year in the system, so I think that's something."
Maybe so, but Bortles and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett worked together for the final nine games last season. Plus the entire offseason. Plus three weeks of training camp. Plus a preseason game.
The reality is Bortles is running out of excuses and time. He's admittedly at a career crossroads, knowing another sub-par season will leave him out of a job in Jacksonville. If Bortles doesn't change his football fortunes, the Jaguars will part ways with the former Central Florida standout after the season and start over at the all-important position by selecting a quarterback in what appears to be a strong draft class or signing one in what appears to be a solid free-agent fold.
And he's not off to the best of starts.
"We're still making mistakes, and we've had thousands of reps," Bortles said. "Imagine if we only had 500, it would be probably way worse. I think the only way to eliminate those mistakes is continue to do it and continue to do it and continue to correct it in meetings until it's beaten in your head that you know how to do it."
Bortles played well early in camp and then got crushed locally and nationally after throwing five interceptions during the team's first padded practice in late July. He bounced back the following day, but has been mostly up and down since. He was pulled from practice Sunday after throwing two interceptions, and coach Doug Marrone initially said Bortles was on a "pitch count." Marrone backtracked the following day, instead saying he "just saw that his arm looked tired."
Bortles responded Tuesday by saying "my arm is fine. It feels good. I'll be all right."
He added that he's taken "more reps in this camp than probably the last three years combined."
One rep got more attention than most Tuesday. Former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson was caught on camera openly ripping Bortles for a poor pass. The video taken by PewterReport.com showed Robinson saying "keep that (expletive) in bounds, bro" after Bortles misfired during a one-on-one passing drill against Tampa Bay.
It was a less-than-ideal look for Robinson, Bortles and a franchise that has won 17 of 80 games over the last five years.
It also continued a narrative of inconsistency for Bortles and the offense.
"I think 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," Bortles said. "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. ... When we get all 11 guys on the same page and doing that every single play, we'll be fine."
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated August 15, 2017