Defenses have stacked the line of scrimmage all season trying to limit the Jaguars’ running game, and quarterback Blake Bortles finally had the opportunity to counter it Sunday.


Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett revealed Thursday that Bortles audibled from a run to a pass play during the first quarter against Seattle for “one of the first times” this season.

“We kind of started giving him the green light,” Hackett said. “He saw it, and everybody got fired up because it was wide open.”

The play Hackett seemed to be referring to came on the Jaguars’ second offensive possession against the Seahawks.

Bortles was initially under center on second-and-6 from the Jaguars’ 11-yard line before he changed the play and got into the shotgun.

The result was a completion to receiver Keelan Cole, who beat Seattle cornerback Justin Coleman on a crossing pattern and gained 10 yards.

“Blake is starting to own the offense, and that’s what you want from him,” Hackett said. “That’s what you want from a quarterback.”

A fair follow-up question: Why not give Bortles the license to audible earlier this season, particularly during times when running back Leonard Fournette has been contained?

“When you’re successful in the run game and everybody knows where they’re going and you’ve got the running backs like we have, you’re still getting positive yards. You want to have a mix of both so that everybody honors it,” Hackett said.

“It is a new system, so you want to slowly let them learn it. You don’t want to just throw everything at them because then all of a sudden their heads are going to pop and you’re not going to be efficient at anything.”

The Jaguars have struck a pretty good balance while winning six of their past seven games. In addition to their league-leading rushing attack (149.9 yards per game this season), Bortles has thrown eight touchdowns and three interceptions during that stretch.

“I think what Nathaniel has done and what he has implemented is just different,” Bortles said. “We do things differently. It is taught differently, and I just think guys really take to it well and execute it really well.”

Fournette out again

Fournette (quad) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday but said afterward he expects to play against Houston on Sunday.

“The running backs take the most licks out of everybody on the field and put our bodies on the line,” Fournette said. “That’s our job. We bounce back from it by taking care of our bodies.”

Also not practicing Thursday were receivers Larry Pinkard (concussion program) and Allen Hurns (ankle).

Wild special teams look

Where did the unusual call of having three players back deep for a first-half punt return against Seattle come from? Somewhere in the past of special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, apparently.

“If you’re in this long enough, you kind of go back through your notes and find some things you think can work,” DeCamillis said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get it to work on the front end. We didn’t block people up inside like we wanted to, but we got the affect that we were looking for on the outside.”

Regular returner Jaydon Mickens was joined by receiver Dede Westbrook and running back Corey Grant and faked a lateral to Westbrook before running. The play was called back because of two Jaguars penalties.

Asked how tricky the play could get, DeCamillis deadpanned: “There’s like 12 options.”

Wash praises Brown

Jaguars linebacker Blair Brown will likely play fewer snaps against the Texans following the return of linebacker Telvin Smith (concussion), but defensive coordinator Todd Wash liked what he saw from the rookie.

One play made by Brown that was particularly impressive: Forcing Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson into an intentional grounding penalty on the first play of the second half.

“It was a good play because he read what he had seen and he plays fast,” Wash said. “If Blair sees what he sees and he plays fast, obviously there’s some good things that are going to happen to us. It was a heck of a recognition of him seeing it.”


Hackett on preparing for Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who has nine sacks this season: “He can line up anywhere on the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lined up at safety or corner at some point. He can go anywhere. We have to account for him.” … Wash remained unhappy about the Jaguars’ secondary allowing passing touchdowns of 61 and 74 yards in the fourth quarter last week but took some of the responsibility for the breakdowns. “I’ve got to look at myself first,” he said. “Are we trying to do too much? Trying to get them in a perfect defense for a perfect play instead of just letting our guys play. I take responsibility for that.”

Phillip Heilman: (904) 359-4063