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Blake Bortles' mistakes finally cost Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has made a lot of mistakes this season. That's not a surprise. That's what rookie quarterbacks generally do.

Heck, it's expected. There will be bad reads and bad throws, poor decisions and poor ball security. The hope is that those mistakes, which are necessary on-the-job training, don't come at critical times and don't cost you a game.

Until Sunday, they hadn't. The Jaguars hadn't been losing games because of Bortles' mistakes -- there were far too many other reasons -- but that changed against the Miami Dolphins. Bortles committed three turnovers, including two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, and finally did keep the Jaguars from winning.

"I'm killing us," Bortles said after the Dolphins' 27-13 victory at EverBank Field. "I've got to try to eliminate different things and get better."

For the first time since he took the field for the second half of the team's loss against Indianapolis in Week 3, Bortles looked a bit rattled. Until he went 5-for-6 in a meaningless fourth quarter, Bortles had completed only 13 of 28 passes for 140 yards. He had air-mailed a pass over a wide-open Denard Robinson, threw a couple passes behind Allen Robinson, and short-armed another on what would have led to a first down.

Some of those mistakes came as a result of pressure -- the Dolphins did sack him four times and were in his face all afternoon -- but it was more troublesome that his three biggest mistakes were simply poor decisions. The interception that safety Louis Delmas took back 81 yards for a touchdown came because Bortles tried to throw back across his body to tight end Nic Jacobs.

The interception that cornerback Brent Grimes took back 22 yards for a touchdown came on a throw Bortles shouldn't have made. Grimes easily jumped in front of Cecil Shorts III and essentially walked into the end zone.

Bortles' fumble, which the Dolphins turned into a field goal, came because Bortles didn't have the ball tucked away when he was tackled by linebacker Jelani Jenkins after scrambling for a first down.

"It's going to happen. I think it's part of it [learning to be an NFL quarterback]," Bortles said. "Obviously you don't want to do it but it's going to happen and there's no reason to think about it or dwell on it or do anything. You can't do anything. It's over with. It's done. So try to move on and not let it happen again."

The problem is those are mistakes he has made before. Repeatedly, and as recently as last week against Cleveland. That's the most disturbing part of what happened Sunday. Bortles, who has thrown 12 interceptions in six games (five in the last two) and is on pace to tie Peyton Manning's rookie record of 28, doesn't seem to be learning from his mistakes.

"We don't want to panic and throw everything out because he's doing some really good things," coach Gus Bradley said. "It's just those plays. How can we take care of those?

"… To make mistakes is human but to make them repeatedly, that's where you have to take it out of your game. Those things we have to challenge him on."

On-the-job training in the NFL can be brutal. It can, and has, sowed doubt and ruined confidence. All you have to do to see that is go back through the first-round quarterback busts over the past two decades. Bortles' isn't at that point and his teammates are confident he'll never get close.

"Blake's a fighter. He'll be fine," Shorts said. "There's going to be adversity. If you're Peyton Manning, you're going to have days like these. If you're Tom Brady, you're going to have days like these. It's just adversity and like I said to somebody else, to have success you're going to go through adversity. There's going to be tough times. Blake will do a great job of bouncing back."

Why is what Shorts said believable? Because Bortles is angry and frustrated with himself and he's as confident in his arm and abilities as he was the day he was drafted No. 3 overall. He says he's not going to quit taking chances, either.

He's also not accepting any excuses, either.

"It's not like this is the first time I've done it," Bortles said. "It's not like you're throwing these routes and this stuff for the first time. I've done it for a while now and I think it's not really an excuse to say, 'You're a rookie. You're going to make rookie mistakes.' I've been doing it for almost my whole life."