Jaguars VP Tom Coughlin: Blake Bortles must cut down on turnovers

Not surprising if Coughlin chooses not to start Bortles (1:16)

The NFL Insiders attribute poor mechanics for the decline in Blake Bortles' game, saying they understand why Tom Coughlin is noncommittal about starting him. (1:16)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles may be the Jacksonville Jaguars' starting quarterback in 2017. Or, maybe not.

Bortles didn't exactly get a ringing endorsement as Tom Coughlin, the executive vice president of football operations, wouldn't say whether the Jaguars remain committed to the player they drafted third overall in 2014.

However, he didn't say the Jaguars were ready to move on from Bortles, either.

All Coughlin would say was that Bortles needs to cut down on turnovers. He has an NFL-high 63, including 51 interceptions, since he entered the league.

"There's plenty of work for everybody to do, Blake included," Coughlin said during a Friday news conference before the NFL scouting combine. "To raise the game to a higher level, it takes all components, though. ... And that's why I mentioned the protection, first of all. [It also entails] people being in the right place at the right time, the timing, taking care of the football, which is paramount to that position.

"There can be no way the ball is turned over to that extent, so I think he'd be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do. But we all have a lot of work to do, so I'm going to put it that way."

Bortles had what appeared to be a breakout season in 2015, setting franchise records for passing yards (4,428) and touchdowns (35). He regressed in 2016, with 23 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions, including three that were returned for touchdowns.

That gave him 11 pick-sixes in his career, which is also his number of victories as a starter.

Bortles' mechanics regressed last season, too. He's spending more than two months in California working with his throwing coach at 3DQB to correct those issues, and Bortles believes that will help his accuracy (58.8 percent completion percentage) and cut down on turnovers.

Coughlin said an improved running game and upgrades along the offensive line -- they are working to finalize a trade for Miami left tackle Branden Albert and are expected to target a guard in free agency -- should help.

"To improve the quarterback, I think we have to also improve the protection and all those components around him," Coughlin said.

Another of those components, Coughlin said, is toughness. While he stopped short of calling the Jaguars soft over the past several seasons, he did say that element was missing from the franchise. Whether it was players' not fighting through injuries or breaking down mentally at crucial parts of the game, it was a big reason the Jaguars haven't won more than five games in a season since 2010.

"This league can benefit from more of that attitude [of toughness], and this team from that attitude as well," Coughlin said. "You're a pro. This isn't pass and tap. It's a tough game. It's a tough business. You've got to play through some things if your team is going to succeed. ... Certainly I'm not talking about a serious injury; I'm talking about things that can be played with.

"At times [the Jaguars lacked toughness]. It may not be the key word, but it is part of it. There's a mental toughness part of this thing I'm talking about, too. You've got to finish."