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Blake Bortles hopes change in offseason training plan can fix mechanics

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles already has begun planning his offseason, and it includes a longer trip out West.

Bortles said he will spend more time at 3DQB in California this offseason than he did last year, and he’s hoping that will help him fix the mechanical and footwork issues that have plagued him throughout the 2016 season.

"We had a lot of guys here so I thought it was important to be here and be with those guys and working with those guys," Bortles said. "And maybe that was best for me or maybe not. I don’t know. It’s part of figuring out your routine individually [and] what your routine is in the offseason.

"I felt just after my rookie year when I went out there and spent all that time in California, I felt good and I think the play was definitely better than it has been this year. So maybe that’s what I need to do and where I need to be."

Bortles' mechanics were never textbook, but he worked hard between his first and second NFL seasons to fix his throwing motion by spending more than two months working at 3DQB. Adam Dedeaux and Jordan Palmer helped him shorten his windup, lengthen his follow-through and clean up his footwork.

It paid off with a record-setting season in 2015. Bortles still held the ball too low at times and his delivery occasionally still had a bit of a loop, but he was more fundamentally sound and he went on to set single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35).

Bortles spent only six days in California last offseason, instead spending much of his time in Jacksonville throwing with receivers at a local high school. Little by little his mechanics slipped, though the changes weren’t that noticeable at the time, but they were significantly worse in training camp.

By then, though, it was too late to fix them. Bringing Dedeaux in for a couple days midseason helped a little, but Bortles is still struggling. He’s completing less than 60 percent of his passes for 3,187 yards and 21 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. Three of those have been returned for touchdowns, which gives him more pick sixes (11) than career victories.

He has thrown pick sixes in three consecutive games against the Houston Texans, whom the Jaguars (2-11) will play on Sunday at NRG Stadium. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last quarterback to throw pick sixes in three consecutive games against a single opponent was Peyton Manning (San Diego in 2010-12). No quarterback has ever done it in four consecutive games against a single opponent.

"I’ve got to be a better tackler," Bortles joked.

Though Bortles already has made plans for next month, that doesn’t mean he has checked out of the season three weeks early.

"It’s three opportunities to go play, but I think you can’t just say, ‘I can’t wait for the offseason to hit because something’s going to magically change and we’ll start winning next year,’" Bortles said. "That has to start at some point. I think it can start in the offseason, but I don’t really understand why it can’t start right now. Why can’t you go 3-0 to end the season and carry that through the offseason and start next year with that?"

And, hopefully, with better mechanics and footwork.