Blake Bortles turned the ball over a career-low 16 times in 2017, including 13 interceptions. Despite watching Bortles' best season protecting the ball, it was not good enough for Doug Marrone.
The coach's goal: zero.
"Zero turnovers," Marrone said earlier this week when asked what he wants to see most from Bortles, via The Florida Times-Union. "I mean really, and I say that with anyone on our team that touches the football. That's the one thing that is the biggest cause of winning and losing games. I think that we talk about ball security and that's not just for a quarterback, but for our receivers, our tight ends, running backs, all the time. When you turn the ball over, it's hard to win football games."
Marrone would like zero turnovers in 2018. I would like gold coins to rain from the sky, 14 Maseratis to magically appear in my garage and world peace. I think we're both going to be disappointed.
"Zero" interceptions is an unrealistic number for any quarterback. Aaron Rodgers, who owns the lowest interception per pass rate in NFL history at 1.6 percent, has never thrown fewer than five in a season since he earned the starting job.
Marrone, however, doubled down on his point that the quarterback must negate turnovers.
When asked if he'd trade 15 additional touchdown passes from Bortles if that meant five more INTs than last season, the coach responded, "No."
"Because I know the turnovers will lead to wins and losses more than the touchdowns," Marrone said. "Now if you said 15-game winning streak, I'll take that. How's that?"
Marrone's point is obvious: turnovers lose games.
Bortles' best statistical season came in 2015, in which he threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. The QB also turned the ball over 23 times, including 18 interceptions. The Jags won just five games that season.
One question with Marrone's zero-sum approach is balancing the desire to negate turnovers with becoming a stagnant, predictable offense that takes no chances and ties the hands of his QB.
During certain points last season, the coaching staff didn't trust Bortles in key moments not to make a mistake. It was an issue that Jalen Ramsey pointed out earlier this offseason. Saying his quarterback can't make any turnovers only heightens the pressure on Bortles to be perfect whenever coaches bless him with the chance to do his job. That type of pressure can be crippling.
It would be interesting to get Tom Coughlin's take on a quarterback throwing for "zero" interceptions, considering his most successful runs as a coach came with Eli Manning, one of the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the NFL who at his best took chances down the field.