Doug Marrone says Blake Bortles is Jaguars' starting QB for 2017

ByMichael DiRocco ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jaguars executive Tom Coughlin might have been hesitant to endorse Blake Bortles as the starter last week, but Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone had no problem doing so Wednesday.

Marrone said Bortles has to improve mechanically, but he will be the Jaguars' No. 1 quarterback in 2017.

"Obviously he's our starting quarterback and you want to see those players go out there and perform to a winning level," Marrone said at the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. "I think it's not as complicated as how sometimes people want to make things out. We're looking for the same thing out of our center, out of our receiver, out of our nose tackle, out of our linebackers.

"We're looking for those players to come back ready to go and put us in position to win games."

That is ultimately how quarterbacks are judged, and Bortles has just 11 wins in his three seasons as the starter, which is also the number of pick-6s he has thrown. The Jaguars went 3-13 in 2016, which included a nine-game losing streak.

Bortles gets the bulk of the blame for the struggles. After a breakout season in 2015 in which he set franchise records for passing yards (4,428) and touchdowns (35), Bortles had a setback in 2016, completing 58.9 percent of his passeswith 23 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions.

One of Bortles' biggest issues was his mechanics, especially his lower body. He is currently in California working with throwing coach Adam Dedeaux at 3DQB to improve his rhythm and length of stride and he says that will improve his elongated windup and release.

"When you talk to Blake individually, he will acknowledge that his mechanics had gotten loose during the year," Marrone said. "We were able to pick up on that at the end of the year and improve on that through individual [drills] and things of that nature. Also, we have to get better around him, too. I think the success of the quarterback, obviously he controls a lot of it, we all know that, but I think that we can get better around him, better in the protection, better in the running game. I think all of those things are going to help him."

Coughlin, who was recently hired to be the team's executive VP of football operations, said last week that the Jaguars need to play better around Bortles, though he wouldn't say whether he was committed to Bortles as the starter.

Coughlin did say Bortles needs to stop turning the ball over so much.

Counting lost fumbles, Bortles has the most turnovers in the NFL over the past three seasons (63), and his 51 interceptions in that span are second to Philip Rivers' 52.

"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," Coughlin said Friday. "But we all have a lot of work to do, so I'm going to put it that way."

Marrone was more emphatic Wednesday.

"Well, I have already said this before," Marrone said. "I see Blake as our quarterback and we're going to do everything we can to make him successful."