JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The 2015 season is almost upon us. Training camps begin soon, the Hall of Fame game is Aug. 9, the preseason begins Aug. 13, and the first regular-season game is Sept. 10.
To get you ready for the Jacksonville Jaguars' season, I’ll have a list of 15 things to know, ponder and file away. The series will continue each weekday until training camp begins July 31
Call it 15 for ’15.
Today: Bortles behind?
At the end of the 2014 season, it was logical to assume that quarterback Blake Bortles was ahead of where the Jaguars wanted him to be in his development. Management hadn’t wanted Bortles to play at all as a rookie, but he started 13 games and that was invaluable experience that he wouldn’t have gained if they had stuck to their plan.
But looking at the situation seven months later, could it actually be the opposite? Did playing in 2014 actually delay Bortles’ development entering his second season?
That’s not regarding the game experience Bortles gained in 2014, which was important. Rather, it relates to where he is in terms of fixing mechanical and fundamental issues -- issues that the Jaguars knew had to be changed when they drafted him third overall.
Bortles spent several weeks in California during the offseason working with throwing guru Tom House and quarterback Jordan Palmer. They worked on shortening his delivery and lengthening his follow-through. The changes weren’t drastic, but it will take a while for them to become second nature. Bortles admitted that while he has been pretty good in terms of using the changes in individual drills, he has reverted back to his old delivery and follow-through during team drills.
Here’s where playing so much as a rookie might have hurt him. Bortles could have been working on these issues throughout the season had he remained the backup behind Chad Henne. He would have gotten minimal reps and had time during and after practices to work on his throwing motion. Instead, he was helping prepare game plans and practicing as the starter.
It was good that Bortles got game experience so he wouldn’t be entering his first season as a starter without any idea what it’s like to be on the field. However, that game experience cost him valuable time in fixing the issues he and the Jaguars identified as problems during the draft process.
That doesn’t mean Bortles isn’t going to be a better quarterback this season. Even if he uses the changes on just half his throws he’ll cut down on mistakes and give receivers a better chance to make plays. That also will reduce the strain on his arm, which he said was tired by the end of the 2014 season.