Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone will be the first to tell you that he’s encouraged by Blake Bortles — more so than what he sees during the play but also before it.
Speaking after a Week 3 win in London last year, Marrone was quick to complement Bortles’ on-field performance with how he was reading defenses, making pre-snap reads, and more.
“If someone goes, ‘Well, he was 20-for-31, he missed 11 throws.’ Well, five of those throwaways were good decisions. I think that being able to get us in the right protections, him and Brandon Linder, against a team that was very complicated defensively in what they do. I give a lot of credit to Brandon Linder and Blake. We really didn’t have any protection-type issues where somebody was running free or things of that nature. If you go back and look at Baltimore, they were a team that was thriving on the turnovers and thriving on sacks and really causing and creating a lot of problems. I really thought that we really did well or executing our protection plan against them.”
It seems that was a theme throughout all of last season and into the offseason.
Speaking after Day 3 of mandatory mini camp, Marrone praised Bortles’ pre-snap work — seemingly focusing on it more than the throws he was making during the play.
“We are ahead of where we were, and we should be, though. That is the one thing. You look at it and you say, ‘He’s not the same because then that would be worse.’ Because you are always getting better or getting worse. It is progression. I think a better way to say it would be that it is a better understanding of the system, a better understanding of the philosophy of what we want to do. You can have that, but sometimes when you go to the field and you are in the moment, the clock is winding down and there is a lot of commotion going on, there is a lot of moving parts going on the other side of the football and sometimes it is tough to get to it. I have seen Blake do that during this camp — being able to get to it and help this football team. I think that is a step in the right direction.”
The key going forward will be Bortles’ ability to be as efficient and mistake-free as possible and that means the pre-snap will be as important as ever. If Bortles can continue to perform well there, the Jaguars will continue to be a Super Bowl contender.
(I can’t believe I just typed that.)