Blake Bortles, Jaguars offense facing something unusual: expectations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles is going to be facing something over the next few months that a Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback hasn’t had to deal with in a long time.

High expectations.

That’s not a surprise after the season Bortles had in 2015, setting franchise records for attempts (606), completions (355), yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35). Only Tom Brady (36) threw more touchdown passes, and Bortles threw for more yards than Matt Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton.

Bortles will be expected to have similar production in 2016, as will receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who combined for 2,431 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. His reaction?


"I think it’s good to an extent because if there was no expectation, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re supposed to be doing," Bortles said Wednesday, the first day of the Jaguars’ offseason conditioning program. "Obviously we haven’t had the outcome that we’ve wanted since we’ve been here, and everybody knows that, but I think it’s cool to have the added hype, the added pressure, the added whatever because people see the potential.

"I think we’ve known it’s been there within ourselves, but for us, that says that we’re doing something. We’ve shown that we have the possibility and the potential to be special."

Though fixing a defense that has been one of the league’s worst over the past three seasons is the top priority for 2016, the Jaguars’ offense needs to improve in several critical areas. It ranked 26th in third-down conversions, 19th in red-zone touchdown percentage (53.7 percent) and 31st in percentage of drives that ended with no first downs or touchdowns (38.3 percent).

The offense also committed 28 turnovers and Bortles threw a league-high 18 interceptions.

Becoming a more efficient and consistent unit depends on those areas getting better -- and the expectations are that the Jaguars will be better in the second year in offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s system.

"I’m excited," said Robinson, who caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and a franchise-record 14 touchdowns last season to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. "I think we have a lot of room to grow. I think we built a really solid foundation last year, and I think it’s exciting to see the direction that we can go. With everybody being in their second year in the offense, it can be a special year for us."

Bortles echoed coach Gus Bradley’s comments from the NFL’s annual meetings in late March that the plan for 2016 is not to expand the offense but rather to refine it. That should help with consistency.

"Rather than going into year two and kind of expanding it, we kind of want to narrow it and say, ‘OK, we have a whole year of kind of testing in some way and saying this is what we did really well and this is what we sucked at, so let’s get rid of all the stuff we sucked at so we can do what we did well more and have a better chance of being successful,’" Bortles said. "I think kind of narrowing in on what our personnel is and what we kind of thrive in [is the goal]."

Those are internal expectations, and Hurns said that if the Jaguars accomplish those, then they’ll be able to meet the external expectations of production -- and more victories.

"We weren’t very successful as far as getting wins. That’s always the main goal," said Hurns, who caught 64 passes for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. "We were successful numbers-wise, but the main thing is we have to be more effective. We have to be more tuned in on third down, win more on third down, keep us on the field more. Same thing with the red zone. Just put up more points. I feel like we have to take our game to the next level."