- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Playing turnover-free football is rare for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.

The third-year pro has done it seven times in 33 career starts. He’s only done it once in consecutive games.

But Bortles thinks he found something in London, where he enjoyed his best game of the season in a victory against Indianapolis . He played loose, scrambled more and took better care of the football.

He acknowledged Wednesday he had been putting too much pressure on himself in the first three games, saying it was the main reason he didn’t play well. He knew that had to change if the Jaguars were going to turn things around.

“I think maybe a little tight,” Bortles said. “Maybe trying to do too much. I think there were a number of things that kind of fueled into that. I think for us as an offensive unit, I think we play good when we’re playing free and having fun. … Got to continue to work on eliminating penalties and shooting ourselves in the foot, but I think against the Colts in London was a good start for sure.”

Bortles and the Jaguars (1-3) will try to carry that into Chicago (1-4) on Sunday, the first of five road games in seven weeks for Jacksonville.

“I think it’s a constant process trying to figure out players’ strengths and what world they live in that they feel free and can be at their best,” coach Gus Bradley said. “I think that is constant and never-ending with most of our guys, and Blake is included in that.”

The Jaguars dissected every play during their bye week, trying to come up with a big-picture view of where Bortles has struggled and what he does best. No surprise, turnovers were near the top of the list.

He had seven turnovers, including six interceptions, in the first three games. He threw a pick in the first quarter of each of Jacksonville’s first three games, leading to 17 points and early deficits against Green Bay, San Diego and Baltimore.

He vowed to stop putting the team in holes and backed it up against the Colts.

“A big part of it is accuracy and throwing the football and where you (want) it,” said Bortles, who has 53 touchdown passes, 41 interceptions, 22 fumbles (seven lost) and three rushing scores. “That will always be part of eliminating turnovers, putting the ball where you want to. But I think for me it’s more so not forcing things, not trying to make plays down the field early in games when they’re not there. I think letting those things come to you.”

Bortles threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns in the 30-27 victory in London. He also ran for 36 yards and a score.

Maybe more telling, the Jaguars improved to 5-2 when Bortles doesn’t turn the ball over. So more than half of his nine career wins have come when he doesn’t have an interception or a fumble.

“He did a fantastic job last week,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “I think we all saw he did a better job. I think the instincts in the pocket, taking off and running and being the athlete that he is. He knows that’s part of his game, and we don’t want to take that away from him.

“Certainly you want to see him progress as a passer, but we never want to take away the instincts for him to run the ball and I thought he did a better job of that. He was very, very efficient last week.”

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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