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Jacksonville Jaguars

After playoff run, what do Jaguars do with Blake Bortles now?

Olivia Stacey

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars’ remarkable season is in the books, however the debate over Blake Bortles seems to only be beginning.

In May, the Jaguars picked up the fifth-year option on Bortles’ rookie contract. At the time it was a controversial decision. Bortles struggled with inaccuracy, timing and decision-making in his first three seasons. With just 11 wins in three seasons as a starter, many questioned if he had the potential to develop into a franchise quarterback?

As the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Bortles hadn’t lived up to expectations. Neither had the Jaguars, who were often the laughing stock of the NFL.

But things changed this season. Bortles completed 60.2 percent of his passes for the first time while throwing for 3,687 yards, 21 touchdowns. He also cut down his interceptions to 13.

Bortles’ improvement backed by the Jaguars’ dominant defense, and Leonard Fournette’s running game, led Jacksonville to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance since the 2007 season.

Sure, Bortles only threw for 87 yards against the Bills, but he rushed for 88, and won the game with his legs and a fourth-down touchdown pass. The 25-year-old quarterback did enough to keep the Jaguars in it, but the performance left many analysts and fans wondering if he would hold his team back from advancing any farther.

Questions about Bortles future with the team began to resurface.

In their stunning upset against Pittsburgh, Bortles did exactly what he needed to do, leading a pair of critical, fourth-quarter drives to advance his team to an AFC title game. At the end of the day, he completed 14 of 26 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 35 yards on five carries.

Bortles followed that up with a brilliant first half against the Patriots. He finished with impressive stats — a 293-yard game with a touchdown pass and no interceptions against the defensing Super Bowl champions. At one point he completed 12 straight passes and 17 of his first 21 throws overall.

For as well as he played, he wasn’t able to lead a scoring drive on the last four Jacksonville possessions, when the game was on the line.

Once again, it led to a fury of questions. Will it be Bortles or someone else under center for the Jaguars in 2018?

Bortles told the media Monday afternoon in the Jaguars locker room that he wants to be that guy. “I’ve enjoyed my four years here and Jacksonville, and I love to play here as long as they will have me.” Bortles continued, “What they (management) do is out of my control.”

If the team doesn’t offer a better long term deal, Bortles’ salary for 2018 will be approximately $19.1 million (the average of the top 10 highest-paid quarterbacks) for the one year deal.

While Bortles performed well in the AFC Championship Game, critics say he’s still extremely inconsistent, which is why the Jaguars should look at their options. Names like Alex Smith, Tyrod Taylor have been thrown around by some football analysts because of their ability to protect the ball.

However, others feel Bortles has earned the job. After all, the much-improved quarterback won a pair of playoff games. His return would also give the team another opportunity to build off a thrilling 2017 season.

Jacksonville is in a quandary and Bortles is still a bit of an enigma.

Olivia is a multi-faceted sports reporter based in Tampa Bay where she has covered events from the College Football National Championship to the Stanley Cup Final. A native Floridian, she grew up rooting for Tampa’s sports teams, and graduated from East Lake High in Tarpon Springs. Olivia continued her education at the University of Florida where she received her broadcast journalism degree.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars hire former Redskins coach Gruden as OC

Florida Football Insiders

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for the Jaguars to come up with a new offensive coordinator and it will be a very familiar name to fans of the NFL and in specific, in Florida. Former Redskins coach and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has been hired buy coach Doug Marrone to assume play-calling duties.

NFL Network insiders Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport had the news first on Tuesday night, that the Jags had settled on the Redskins coach who was fired during his sixth season back in October:

Gruden, the younger brother of Raiders coach Jon Gruden, was fired in October after the Skins 0-5 start and while in his sixth season in Washington. He mostly struggled for the Redskins to have success with a 35-49-1 overall record. However, they won the NFC East in Gruden’s second year (2015) with a 9-7 record, but were beaten at home in the Wildcard Weekend by the Green Bay Packers.

Gruden worked his way up to his first head coaching job after having been the offensive coordinator for Marvin Lewis for three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. There, he worked with quarterback Andy Dalton and spectacular WR A.J. Green and his final year (2013), the Bengals were 6th in overall offense and fifth in scoring.

The Jaguars had also reportedly interviewed former Giants head coach, Ben McAdoo, and had also been considering former Cowboys and Rams offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan, for their vacancy. Coach Doug Marrone fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after just one season last week.

While the team termed it “mutually parting ways,” DeFilippo was quickly hired by the Chicago Bears last Wednesday, as a quarterback coach. And, obviously going from an NFL offensive coordinator job to a QB coach is not a lateral move.

Back to Jay Gruden. He is best known in our state for having been outstanding Arena Football League quarterback leading both the Tampa Bay Storm and the Orlando Predators franchises to Arena Bowl Championships.

Later his career Gruden was a player coach for the Orlando franchise, while also working during the NFL seasons in the fall as an offensive assistant under brother with the Buccaneers, including their 2002 Super Bowl win.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars interviewing former Redskins coach Jay Gruden for OC

Florida Football Insiders

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars continue to look for a new offensive coordinator in an interesting name with Florida connections has emerged.

Fox Sports NFL Insider Mike Garafolo reported on Sunday that former Redskins head coach and longtime Arena Football League star player and coach in the Sunshine State, Jay Gruden is on their radar:

Gruden was fired in October after an 0-5 start and while in his sixth season in Washington. He mostly struggled for the Redskins to have success with a 35-49-1 overall record. However, they won the NFC East in Gruden’s second year (2015) with a 9-7 record, but we’re beaten at home in the Wildcard Weekend by the Green Bay Packers.

Gruden worked his way up to his first head coaching job after having been the offensive coordinator for Marvin Lewis for three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. There, he worked with quarterback Andy Dalton and spectacular WR A.J. Green and his final year (2013), the Bengals were 6th in overall offense and fifth in scoring.

The Jaguars have also reportedly interviewed former Giants head coach, Ben McAdoo, and are said to also be considering former Cowboys and Rams offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan, for their vacancy. Coach Doug Marrone fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after just one season last week.

While the team termed it “mutually parting ways,” DeFilippo was quickly hired by the Chicago Bears Wednesday, as a quarterback coach. And, obviously going from an NFL offensive coordinator job to a QB coach is not a lateral move.

Jacksonville’s offense sputtered at times this past season, although it was handicapped when prized free agent quarterback Nick Foles was hurt in the first game of the season and missed 9 weeks with a fractured collarbone. Rookie sixth round pick, Gardner Minshew, was good at times in relief and helped Jacksonville win six games overall with his play.

Back to Jay Gruden. He is best known in our state for having been outstanding Arena Football League quarterback leading both the Tampa Bay Storm and the Orlando Predators franchises to Arena Bowl Championships.

Later his career Gruden was a player coach for the Orlando franchise, while also working during the NFL seasons in the fall as an offensive assistant under brother Jon Gruden with the Buccaneers.

Of course, the elder Gruden is now the coach of the Raiders again, and they are slated to move to Las Vegas for this fall. And, it’s entirely possible that Jay Gruden could be joining his brother with them, as well.

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