Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said he struggled a bit last season due in large part to getting acclimated to the team’s new offensive scheme.
With the learning curve in his rear-view mirror, Bortles said he expects a far better season ahead in 2018.
“When we started last year, it was kind of an elementary level, in terms of ‘I’m hearing the play, I’m thinking about the footwork I have to take, the identification, trying to remember what routes guys are running and all that,’ ” Bortles told the Orlando Sentinel.
“Now, I think I’m kind of owning the offense and having a better understanding of it. Obviously, it is a continuous study and a continuous grind to continue to master it and stay on top of it, but I definitely feel more comfortable with it.”
Bortles signed a three-year, $54 million contract in February, one month after helping the upstart team advance to the AFC Championship Game.
The 26-year-old Bortles connected on 60.2 percent of his passes for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions during the regular season.
The Jaguars won the AFC South with a 10-6 record and then defeated the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs before losing a 24-20 battle with the New England Patriots that kept them from going to the Super Bowl. Jacksonville had not been to the playoffs since the 2007 season.
Bortles finished the postseason with a 57.6 percent completion percentage for 594 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He added 121 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Going into the 2017 season, Bortles appeared to be fighting for his job. The third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft had struggled, leading the NFL in turnovers with 63 from 2014-16.