Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has spent the last three years working with quarterback Blake Bortles and he sees major differences from the quarterback he met in 2015.
Bortles had one NFL season under his belt and Hackett told Albert Breer of SI.com that he had to “go back to the beginning” because Bortles didn’t know how to do much other than throw the ball to Allen Robinson. That often meant throwing the ball downfield into coverages prepared for that scenario and Hackett set to work on breaking Bortles of that habit.
The process still had its rough patches last season, but Hackett saw growth in moments when Bortles checked down to running backs or changed to run plays in order to avoid the risks he was too willing to take in the past. While that wasn’t enough to keep the Jaguars from playing conservatively in the AFC title game, Hackett promised a different approach this season because of what they saw from Bortles last year.
“We’re in a great situation, because a very good line, and we have very good running backs, which will allow us to run the ball,” Hackett said. “Now it’s going to allow us to be a lot more aggressive, because you can trust that Blake is going to make right decision more consistently.”
Trust wasn’t a word used about Bortles at this point a year ago and the Jaguars flirted with the notion of starting Chad Henne last summer before committing to Bortles. There won’t be any flirtations with other starters this summer, but it will be some time before we know for sure how much more of the Jaguars offense will rest on their quarterback’s shoulders this season.