And that could be a bad thing for defenses this fall.
Bortles, speaking after playing in a friendly pingpong match against PGA Tour golfer Jeff Overton on Wednesday evening at The Players Championship, said the offense is crisper and there are far fewer mistakes in the second season under offensive coordinator Greg Olson. It’s especially noticeable when he’s throwing with receivers on his own at a Jacksonville high school.
"I remember last year going through and we’re running routes on air and plays with no defense and there’s balls on the ground," Bortles said. "And it was kind of like, everybody’s just kind of figuring out [the offense]; guys are on different pages. This year if there’s a ball on the ground or an incomplete pass or something happens, everybody’s like, ‘Whoa, what just happened?’
"It’s kind of different in that way. There’s just a higher level of expectations going into it."
There should be after 2015. Bortles set franchise records for passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35) and receiver Allen Robinson set a franchise record with 14 touchdown catches. Robinson had 1,400 yards receiving – the second-highest mark in team history – and Allen Hurns had 1,031 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.
The offense averaged 23.5 points per game, which was the most since 2007 (25.6), in Olson’s first season.
The Jaguars added running back Chris Ivory, left tackle Kelvin Beachum and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau in free agency and only drafted one offensive player: quarterback Brandon Allen in the sixth round. That means the Jaguars are pretty much standing pat on offense heading into 2016 and counting on the unit to be even better in Olson’s second season.
The improvements on defense – draft picks Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue and defensive tackle Malik Jackson and free safety Tashaun Gipson in free agency – have resulted in the Jaguars being a trendy pick to compete for the AFC South and/or be a playoff team.
Bortles has noticed the additional attention, but said it’s not something that’s talked about in the locker room.
"It’s kind of cool because there’s a lot of hype and stuff, obviously, in the community but when you walk into the building it kind of just stops," Bortles said. "The noise stops because everybody in the building knows what our goal is and how we’re going to go about doing it."
Bortles hopes the improvement he’s seen in the informal offensive workouts means more consistency this season.
"We had guys that had great individual years and obviously is the goal is to turn that into successful team years," he said. "I think that’s kind of the goal, to continue to stick to the process and get better as a group and as a unit."