Thursday in North Florida, the talk about the Jaguars 2017 season officially ended. That’s when they took to the practice field for the first time in training camp to begin defense of their AFC South title and try to build on their appearance in the AFC Championship Game.
And one thing that is already standing out is the 180 degree change in mindset for this year.
A year ago, Doug Marrone had taken over on a full time basis, but no one was sure if he would truly work out as the Jacksonville boss. Blake Bortles was a struggling QB entering last late July and most had him seemingly on his way out. And, the signing of defensive lineman Calais Campbell and his subsequent impact (team record 14.5 sacks) had not yet been known.
Out of that uncertainty last year, however, this late July has matched it with an air of confidence.
Confidence that Bortles showed during his first workout since wrist surgery right after the season and after agreeing to a new contract extension that solidified his standing at least for this season.
Bortles met with the media Thursday afternoon and it was recapped on the Twitter feed:
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) July 26, 2018
And he honed in on being more comfortable with everything this year including the offensive system:
“You start seeing it as one big picture. You know, the whole thing….which is how Nathaniel (Hackett) sees it and that’s how he calls plays… to see the thing as a whole, kinda everything working in motion and being smooth,” Bortles continued, “everybody is in the places that they need to be and landmarks and all of that. It’s constant process of reps and we gotta get as many of ’em as we can. So, we can get to the point where everybody is in the right spot, every play.”
And Bortles was asked if that’s now easier with much of the same personnel back for this season?”
Obviously, with Nathaniel coming back and for the most part, the core of our offense stayed the same with a couple of new pieces. I think we’ll be able to reach that point quicker.”
Yes. Bortles sounded confident.
And so too did coach Doug Marrone on Thrusday. He spoke on his weekly radio/internet TV simulcast Thursday afternoon and compared the success of last year to beginning newly, now:
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) July 26, 2018
He was asked about carrying over their 2017 success/momentum:
What I look at is: there was a level of success…and it was a level of confidence. But, again, it goes back to last year. And I think that was something that was built during training camp. You know. And that was established during the season week in and week out.” Marrone then said, “What I’ve tried to tell this is we have to focus on 2018 and focus on getting to that point, again. You just don’t start at that point where you have that confidence and accountability.”
So, the first day is done.
And Marrone is right, they have to continue to build and build to have the success that everyone is now expecting.
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