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Jaguars are in a good place, second, despite their record

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JACKSONVILLE — If the Jacksonville Jaguars were told at the start of the season that they’d be 2-5 at the bye week, they would have been disappointed.

If they were told they’d be a game out of first place in the AFC South at the bye week, they would have taken it.

And that’s where the Jaguars are while enjoying their bye week.

The Jaguars (2-5) are tied with Houston, a game behind Indianapolis (3-4) in the AFC South.

It remains to be seen if they have a chance to win a bad division.

Jacksonville lost to Indianapolis when it had Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, and to Houston when defensive end J.J. Watt was sick and playing on fumes.

They play two road games after the bye. They go to the New York Jets (4-2), and the Baltimore Ravens (1-6), although the Ravens are probably better than their record and have Joe Flacco at quarterback.

Then in their last seven games, they play four division games — against the Tennessee Titans twice, the Colts at home and the Texans on the road.

The other three are against the San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints.

“The NFL is crazy,” coach Gus Bradley said. “It’s a crazy, crazy league.”

Instead of worrying about the playoffs, the more immediate goal for the Jaguars should be to win enough games to save Bradley’s job for a fourth season.

Counting this year’s 2-5 mark, followed by 3-13 and 4-12 records his first two seasons, he’s 9-30 and while owner Shad Khan made it clear in London that he won’t fire him during the season, he made no promises for next year.

Khan said the rest of the season is “very, very important” because, “we don’t want to become a victim of the status quo.”

Reading between the lines, Khan seems to be saying another 3-13 or 4-12 season would doom Bradley because that would be the status quo.

But what does Khan think would be acceptable? He’s not saying. Would five or six victories be enough? The odds are that a 7-9 record, which would mean going 5-4 the rest of the way, would save Bradley.

Whether he’d survive double digit losses with a 5-11 or 6-10 mark is anybody’s guess.

Another question is how well quarterback Blake Bortles plays in the final nine games.

Bortles has been inconsistent, as was illustrated in the win over the Bills, when he threw a pick six for the second game in a row, but then led a game-winning drive.

But his teammates believe in him.

“Last year, we saw flashes early,” defensive tackle Roy Miller said. “We knew what kind of player he is. He’s what I call a gunslinger. He’s not afraid to take chances.

“He has a lot of confidence in himself. He’s not afraid to take a shot and he’s not afraid to get the ball in tight spaces.”

Miller said it’s not in Bortles’ makeup to be shaken by the pick sixes he threw.

“He has so much poise and confidence, and I’m not just saying that because of the last game,” Miller said. “I remember one game he threw a couple of picks and I’m talking to him and he’s like, ‘I’m good. I’m going to be there, the best quarterback in the league.’

“You wouldn’t expect somebody to say that after a game (when he throws interceptions), but he has that kind of confidence and he’s going to make more plays than mistakes.”

Bortles said of the comeback drive: “The guys were fine. You want to be free, loose and calm.”

Bortles has thrown 15 touchdown passes, one behind Tom Brady, but he’s also thrown eight interceptions and his quarterback rating of 82.5 is 25th in the league.

How the Jaguars perform in the last nine games will be tied to how well he plays.

NOTES: The Jaguars signed rookie linebacker Hayes Pollard off Cleveland’s practice squad and waived fourth year linebacker James-Michael Johnson. Hayes was a seventh round selection by the Browns who was cut and then put on their practice squad. Johnson was signed Oct. 5 and was inactive for the Buffalo game. … Guard Zane Beadles (plantar fasciitis) might not be able to play against the New York Jets after the bye. … Tight end Julius Thomas had discomfort in his groin during the Buffalo game and his status will be updated next week. … TE Clay Harbor (abdominal strain) is getting treatment and his status will be updated next week. … Safety James Sample (shoulder), who has missed three games, will continue rehab and his condition will be updated next week. Wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) hasn’t played since halftime of the New England game and coach Gus Bradley said he couldn’t put a time frame on his return. Wide receiver Rashad Greene (thumb), who is on short term injured reserve, is eligible to return to practice next Wednesday.


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