Going into their season-opening matchup against the defending division champion Texans on Sunday, the Jaguars wanted quarterback Blake Bortles to do just one thing.
“As long as he’s an efficient player,’’ returning offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said of the beleaguered Bortles earlier in the week. “That’s the key. Efficiency.’’
It appears as though Bortles met the objective. His performance in a stunning 29-7 Jaguars victory wasn’t the kind that will earn him a place in the Pro Bowl, but it could help the Jaguars win a lot of games.
Working behind an offensive line that didn’t surrender a sack and allowed him to get hit only twice, Bortles completed 11 of 21 throws for 125 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
The 21 pass attempts were the fewest ever for Bortles, whose previous low was 24, the number he threw in his pro debut, which came in the second half of a Week 3 game against Indianapolis in 2014.
“I was happy with the decision making,’’ said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone, who might have had some reason not to be overly pleased with Bortles execution, though we may be nitpicking.
For example, Bortles completed his first three passes of the game for 43 yards to help get the Jaguars to the Texans 24-yard-line, but he missed on two straight from there, forcing the Jaguars to settle for a field goal on their first drive.
Bortles missed on a red-zone throw two possessions later, forcing the Jaguars to settle for yet another field goal, but he hit fullback Tommy Bohanon with a 1-yard touchdown toss to get the Jaguars into the end zone in the third quarter.
Again, it wasn’t a spectacular performance by Bortles, but with the Jaguars planning to lean more on their running game this year, they may not need Bortles to be spectacular in order to win.
They may just need him to be efficient, which is precisely what he was on Sunday.