Blake Bortles' throwing motion in 2016 looked like something out of an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics reel. The elongated motion added to the quarterback's struggles with turnovers.
The 25-year-old spent the offseason working with quarterback guru Adam Dedeaux to help improve his mechanics. Thus far through offseason workouts, coaches have had good things to report on Bortles' improvement.
Add executive vice president Tom Coughlin to the chorus pleased with Bortles correcting the issue. When asked on The Rich Eisen Show what he saw in Bortles that led the team to pick up the fifth-year option on the quarterback, Coughlin cited improved mechanics as part of the equation.
"Two years ago, he had an outstanding year, had a lot of yards, over 4,000 yards. I won't say outstanding because the team didn't do outstanding, but he certainly was much more productive." Coughlin said. "This past year, a lack of production, if you will, turnovers, too many. And, so, he's a talented young man. Had some flaws in his throwing motion that he did a nice job of working on in the offseason and pretty much correcting. So, we've seen some good things there."
Since being drafted No. 3 overall in 2014, Bortles has thrown 51 interceptions in 46 games. Last year he threw 16 INTs to 23 touchdowns with 3,905 yards, a steep drop from his 35 TD-to-18 INT, 4,428-yard 2015 season.
The Jaguars believe improved mechanics, along with an upgraded run game in rookie Leonard Fournette, can help stabilize the enigmatic Bortles. On paper in June, Jacksonville is a solid quarterback away from playoff contention.
Coughlin reiterated to Eisen that the team gained flexibility by utilizing the fifth-year option, which is guaranteed for injury only.
"The whole thinking there is we thought it was a good business decision, a good decision for the club, a good decision for Blake and his team as well," Coughlin said. "Obviously, we have very good business people here and the thought was it was a good move. It's an opportunity for us to keep alive the various tags -- the franchise tag, the transition tag -- to utilize on other players if we need it. Also, the negotiating point would be from the option. So, we thought it was a good move."
With Bortles on the books, receiver Allen Robinson sits as the most obvious candidate on the Jags possibly targeted for franchise tag in 2018. Reading between the lines, Coughlin's comments about the fifth-year option on Bortles freeing up the tag to be used elsewhere could be an indicator that the Jags are prepared to wait out the year before locking down their biggest weapon. Robinson is already on record saying he's "earned" a new contract.
As for Bortles, the Jaguars believe the risk of potentially paying a teeter-totter quarterback $19.05 million in 2018 is worth it to push other decisions further down the road.