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Blake Bortles just tried to survive, Jaguars GM says

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One anonymous NFL head coach recently opined to ESPN.com's Mike Sando that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles "looked lost" as a rookie.

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Among qualified passers, Bortles ranked dead-last in Total QBR and second-to-last in yards per attempt while working through mechanical issues.

"He was just doing things to survive last year," general manager David Caldwell explained, via The Florida-Times Union.

As Around The NFL's Conor Orr noted in his "Making the Leap" feature, it was hard for Bortles to be graceful "amid a field of land mines."

Jacksonville's offensive line was among the most porous in the league and three of Bortles' top four receivers were greenhorn rookies still learning to run routes and read coverages.

"For the beating he was taking, he was pretty poised about it," one personnel director told Sando. "It will be interesting to see how the new coordinator (Greg Olson) helps him. I do not think they helped him at all last year. One of the hardest things when you take a quarterback is getting your staff, especially your play-caller and head coach, to determine how they're going to make him successful and then sticking to it."

Bortles has several factors working in his favor this year.

Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas and second-year breakout candidate Allen Robinson each boast 1,000-yard potential, the offensive line could have as many as three new starters and rookie tailback T.J. Yeldon figures to lead an invigorated ground attack.

Bortles has also made progress in correcting a mechanical flaw that Caldwell deemed an "overrated" factor in last season's struggles.

"He hurt his foot against Baltimore and he had shoulder inflammation issues later in the year -- just a tired arm," Caldwell said. "He's fine tuned it and done a good job. I thought his mechanics were sound coming in -- we thought he needed some work and he really did work on them. But the whole thing about him regressing? Nobody who said that was doing any research as to what was going on."

Coach Gus Bradley noted in March that Bortles was everything the Jaguars hoped for "as far as mentality and competitiveness" as a rookie. Now the team's brass needs to see that play out in terms of increased effectiveness as a passer.

"Like a lot of quarterbacks, he should make that big jump," Caldwell said. "He's done all of the things in the off-season to put himself in position to have a good year."

The latest Around The NFL Podcast features the triumphant return of Dan Hanzus and discusses the biggest mysteries heading into training camp.

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