Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles met with the media on Wednesday to talk about the team and the upcoming game with the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Everyone in the Jacksonville Jaguars locker room knows what happened in the AFC Title game last season. The 24-20 loss to the New England Patriots is something you don’t forget, but something you move on from. When quarterback Blake Bortles met with the media on Wednesday inside TIAA Bank Field, just like everyone else, he wanted to talk about the Patriots and the game this week.
The game last season is in the past and he and his teammates are moving forward.
"“I think everyone knows what happened last year and going up there and not winning a game we felt as if we could win, but it is a fresh start. It is a new year, new team. They have new guys on their roster.” Bortles said."
The final two playoff games of the season were arguably the best two games the fifth-year quarterback played all season. Now, after a shaky start on offense in a 20-15 win over the New York Giants, Bortles and his teammates see this as another big game early in the schedule.
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"“I look at it as an opportunity as our first home game to play in front of our fans against a really good football team in the Patriots, rather than a revenge game or anything like that. Week  and we have won six in a row at home so to get an opportunity to pick that streak back up and get it going again is exciting,” he added."
If the Jaguars are going to beat the AFC juggernaut, they will need to rely on their running game that now has a huge question mark in whether Leonard Fournette will play. T.J. Yeldon played well last week and could be counted on to carry the load. Corey Grant, who was instrumental in the team’s first-half progress in January, could be asked to have a bigger role this weekend.
Bortles believes getting Grant involved more than he was last week is important to the team’s success.
"“I think any time Corey [Grant] is on the field, he has the opportunity to make a big play with the speed that he has. That whole room in general with Leonard [Fournette] and T.J. [Yeldon]. All three of those guys are really good players,” he said."
The emphasis of finding the right formula against Bill Belichick’s team is up to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The game may center around Bortles and his ability to play better this week, but it is Hackett’s game plan that will be scrutinized as well.
"“That is [Offensive Coordinator] Nathaniel [Hackett’s] job to find a way to get those guys the ball and put them in the best situation to create positive plays,” Bortles said. “They are all certainly deserving of some touches and the opportunity to make plays and we try to get it to them as much as possible.”"
The Jaguars also must find a way to gain more yards than last week. Jacksonville’s offense accounted for only 305 yards the entire game. The New York Giants had 324 yards of total offense.
That’s why the play of the wide receivers becomes that much more important. Bortles said he knows the New England defense will be ready for them, especially the secondary.
"“They do a good job. They are as sound as you can be fundamentally and discipline wise. They are going to be in the right place and they are going to make you make an exceptional play to beat them,” he said"