Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is under a microscope. This upcoming season could determine the trajectory of the remainder of his career.
If he plays well and the Jaguars win, he'll likely receive a massive contract extension. If he plays poorly, he'll likely be released next offseason and be forced to earn a job elsewhere.
Bortles' fifth contract year is only guaranteed for injury, so the Jaguars hold all the cards. They can pay him or they can ship him out of town based on the next five months.
The young quarterback is in do-or-die mode, which has led to a complete reworking of his throwing motion.
He spent the time period before the offseason program working out in California with famed quarterback instructors Tom House and Adam Dedeaux of 3DQB. Shortly after an up-and-down offseason program performance in Jacksonville, Bortles returned to the other coast to get some more fine tuning before training camp.
"Going out there was just grooming everything, making everything consistent, making sure, because you go out there and you’re throwing there, there’s nobody around you, there’s nobody coming at you, you’re not thinking about anything, you’re just throwing," Bortles said of his west coast training.
"So that’s the kind of stuff you work on and then you bring it out here and hope it holds up and now, when we get out here, it’s about the thought process, the decision making, the accuracy and kind of all the football-related things. It felt good. Obviously, still a long way to go, a lot to work on, but I thought for day one [of training camp], I thought it was a good start.”
Accuracy and decision-making have not been Bortles' strongest suits over the last three seasons. The quarterback has completed just 58.8 percent of his passes and thrown 51 interceptions during that time period.
Bortles hopes the training with House and Dedeaux will help him increase his completion percentage and minimize his interception output this season. Bortles said he believes this has been the strongest offseason of his career, largely due to the time he has put into it.
He hopes the extra work will pay off with more big plays and in turn, more wins this season.
"I think it’s just about going out there, playing football, one, and making plays, making more plays than they make, score more points than they score," Bortles said. "I think last year we fought probably a little too much about, ‘What are the possibilities, can we do this, can we do that.’ Obviously, that didn’t work out, it didn’t go well. So I think to be able to free the mind and just go play football and enjoy it and have fun and make as many big plays as we possibly can, is the goal.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.