JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nearly an hour after the game ended, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles sat slumped at his locker. Coach Gus Bradley stopped by, put a hand on Bortles’ head and whispered something in his ear.
Bradley stayed for a few minutes, long enough to know how hard Bortles was taking the team’s latest loss.
“I feel bad for him,” Bradley said.
Bortles threw three interceptions, including two in a wild fourth quarter, and Baltimore (2-1) beat the Jaguars 19-17 Sunday. It was the third consecutive game Bortles had at least one turnover, far from what the Jaguars (0-3) need from their team captain and offensive leader.
“I think every loss feels pretty much the same,” said Bortles, who now has six interceptions and seven turnovers in three games. “They all feel pretty bad. … We had unbelievable field position and continued to tremendously underachieve as an offense. That’s nobody’s fault outside of mine, I believe. We didn’t get it done. We had way too many turnovers, played careless with the ball.”
Bortles completed 24 of 38 passes for 194 yards, with two touchdowns to Allen Robinson and a career-high-tying three interceptions. He also was sacked four times. His biggest problems came in the final frame with the game on the line. Jacksonville’s defense kept getting Bortles the ball and he kept giving it back.
He threw an interception two plays after Joe Flacco did. He took a sack on a third-down play on the ensuing possession, forcing a 52-yard field goal that was blocked. He was picked off one more time while trying to mount a late drive in the final minute.
It was ugly for sure, among the worst outings of his three-year career. It also followed a lackluster performance at San Diego in which he started slow — again — and failed to muster anything close to a comeback.
On Sunday, Bortles threw another first-quarter interception — his third in as many games.
“I know he’s showing up and making some plays and not enough plays as he would like, as we would like,” Bradley said. “I think the big thing is he’s got poise and he’s got to rely on that poise in these difficult situations like this.”
Difficult might be an understatement.
The Jaguars are 0-3 for the third time in four years and surely will hear more talk about Bradley’s job security as they head to London to play AFC South rival Indianapolis.
“I think you get to find out what kind of people are in the locker room, what kind of people are in the building when you go 0-3,” Bortles said. “There was a lot of hype before the season and that’s all completely gone. We know that and we see that so I think you get to kind of find out the character of this team, the character of this coaching staff and what we’re going to do about it because we’ve still got 13 games to play.
“It’s a long season. There’s a lot of ball left, and we’re not where we wanted to be by any means. But we’re still excited to have 13 opportunities to go play and win.”