Blake Bortles trying to shorten delivery and lengthen release

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles began his offseason work with noted throwing coach Tom House and quarterback coach Jordan Palmer, he had two main goals:

Shorten his delivery to quicken his release and lengthen his follow-through to throw with more accuracy and with tighter spirals.

Bortles still has a ways to go until he has completely fixed either, but he has made more progress with his delivery than his follow-through.

"It’s hard when you try and change stuff like that," said Bortles, who has also cleaned up his footwork. "It’s something I’ve been doing since I was 12 years old. So it’s definitely been developing a bad habit. It’s something you’ve got to think about. Right now I’m in the stage of doing as much as possible so I don’t have to think about it anymore."

Bortles came into the NFL with a wind-up delivery in which he brought the ball below his waist, but he has shortened it considerably, and it was a relatively easy fix. To begin his release, House and offensive coordinator Greg Olson have told Bortles to push the ball slightly out from his body and then bring it up to make the throw.

That eliminated the long wind-up because it’s counter-intuitive to push the ball out and then bring it down below the waist.

"I think he’s done a great job of cleaning up his mechanics," Olson said. "In his takeaway, he was dropping the ball down low, and he’s cleaned that part up, so now he’s working on another aspect of his throwing motion. I’m excited to see that."

The follow-through issue, however, has been more troublesome. Bortles’ problem was his right hand was finishing the throwing motion on the left side of his body, sometimes at his hip and sometimes a little higher. That was the reason the ball didn’t come off his hand in a tight spiral.

The follow-through hurt his accuracy. Plus, the ball wobbled, and he sometimes wasn’t able to get as much on a throw as he wanted.

If Bortles uses a proper follow-through, his right hand should end up directly in front of him with his thumb pointing at his groin.

"Making sure the ball is leaving off your pointer finger and you’re ripping, throwing down," he said."I was kind of cutting across the ball, throwing it like a baseball sometimes, causing some wobblers."

Bortles said he’s been more consistent in his follow-through during individual drills, but he has reverted back to his old habit during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 during organized team activities. He plans to continue to work on it until it becomes muscle memory and he follows through properly every time he throws, regardless of whether it’s a drill or a game.

"You go to team [drills] and you start thinking about other things -- schemes and coverages and reads and stuff like that," he said. "It’s definitely something I’ve got to continue to work on."

Bortles spent more than two months earlier this year in California working with House and Palmer. Bortles said he spent five consecutive days with House, who also has worked with Tom Brady and Drew Brees, and then worked with him three days a week for the rest of the two months. He also threw with Palmer once or twice a week.

Bortles said he plans on making another week-long trip to California after the end of next week’s three-day mandatory minicamp and before the start of training camp in late July. He’ll put more work in on his delivery and follow-through plus whatever else Olson and House, who stay in contact regarding Bortles’ learning plan, decide needs to be fine-tuned.

"He’s a real hard worker, self-starter, a very self-motivated player, and he’s got good talent," Olson said. "I’m working with a guy that’s a young player, that wants to get better, and he’s been in early every day, and he stays late. He’s one of the first guys here in the morning, and he’s one of the last guys to leave.

"He’s very hard on himself. He’s also critical of himself, but he recognizes what needs to be fixed, and he’s able to do that. A lot of guys aren’t able to do that."