JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Most of the attention surrounding Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles' offseason has been focused on the work he did with throwing coach Tom House to fix his mechanics.
However, that was only a part of an overall plan, which he said will become the blueprint for all future offseasons.
"This offseason was big for me to go out and develop a system on how to do certain things," Bortles said on Monday, the day quarterbacks and rookies reported to EverBank Field for training camp. "[Things like] how to take care of your body, how to continue to watch film, how to learn and do all of that."
Coach Gus Bradley said numerous times at the end of the 2014 season that he was eager to see how Bortles attacked the offseason. Bradley said he wanted Bortles to seek out other NFL quarterbacks and to see how they handled their offseason, work with a coach on his own, and study film on his own. Bortles did all of that, and Bradley and GM David Caldwell were pleased with what they saw from their second-year quarterback between December and the start of voluntary offseason workouts in late April.
Bortles said he spoke with several NFL veterans and they told him the same thing: In order to survive in the NFL he needed to have a structured plan for his offseason. Hanging out and haphazard throwing sessions wasn’t going to cut it.
"It was kind of the same thing: To make sure you develop a routine and it’s something you can stick to and build off of," Bortles said.
In addition to fixing his throwing motion -- shortening the delivery and lengthening the follow-through -- House and quarterback coach Jordan Palmer helped Bortles develop a warm-up routine and the proper way to care for his arm.
That was an issue for Bortles as a rookie. He said his arm deteriorated during the season and he ended 2014 with a tired arm. It’s easy to see why. From summer workouts to fall practice to the regular season at Central Florida to the NFL combine to his pro day to private workouts with NFL teams to rookie minicamp to organized team activities to training camp to the 16-game NFL season, Bortles threw countless passes.
House and Palmer taught Bortles to take stress off his arm by using his whole body and generating power with his lower body. That, along with his new mechanics, should significantly reduce the strain on his arm.
The way Bortles scheduled the workouts is an important part of developing his offseason program as well. He spent more than two months in California with House and Palmer between January and April and threw with several Jaguars players on the West Coast as well. After OTAs and minicamp, Bortles stayed in Jacksonville and watched film and threw with players at a local high school.
He worked that around a week in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, for the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament, which he said he’d like to make a regular part of his offseason, too. But he even got some work in during that, too, spending some time throwing with Palmer.
The offseason also gave Bortles some time to reflect on his rookie season. The Jaguars planned to have him sit the bench but the offense was so non-functional that they had no choice but to bring him in at halftime in Week 3. He was exciting to watch early, went through a stretch in which he played pretty badly, and rebounded to play solid football the last five games. He ended up going 3-10 as a starter and throwing 11 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.
The hope is the offseason routine Bortles developed will make him a more consistent and better quarterback.
"It kind of fell apart [last season] so having a routine and a plan is going to help," he said.