JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars played most of the season with six rookies and three second-year guys on offense.
The Jaguars (3-13) ranked 31st in total offense, averaging 290 yards and 15.6 points, and provided few, if any, signs of improvement down the stretch.
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch got blamed for the debacle.
Coach Gus Bradley fired Fisch on Tuesday, two days after Jacksonville ended the season with an NFL-low 24 offensive touchdowns.
''We just had some philosophical differences,'' Bradley said. ''The direction we wanted to go as an organization on offense, that's what it came down to.''
When pressed, Bradley offered more insight into his decision. He said Fisch wanted to put a lot on Bortles' plate and see how much he could handle. Bradley, however, preferred to let Bortles grow slowly throughout the season.
''Which way is best? I don't know,'' Bradley said. ''I know the way we kind of want to do it. ... We want to help him get better every day and not overwhelm. I think you know my philosophy of be careful of how much you put on a guy to create a lot of anxiety that might keep him from being his best.''
Fisch was hamstrung from the start. Not only was Jacksonville the youngest team in the league, but it also had 10 rookies, including eight on offense, start a combined 82 games. That's nearly 20 more games than second-place Oakland.
''Anything easy isn't worth doing,'' general manager Dave Caldwell said. ''It's part of the reason why I chose to take this job in Jacksonville, because I knew the challenge and I knew it was going to be extremely rewarding when we look back and say, `Remember in 2013 and 2014 when we played all of those young guys and now to see them grow in front of your eyes.'''
Bradley said he would like to keep the rest of the offensive staff intact, including quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, but he acknowledged that might not be possible depending on the next coordinator.
Parting ways with Fisch means Bortles will have to learn a new system in his second season. That could negate the progress he made.
''Any time that you make a decision like this, you obviously want continuity,'' Bradley said. ''Continuity is very big. We all know that here with some of the experiences that we had, so that was something that I took very seriously. And I know sometimes when you do this, sometimes you take a step back a little bit because there's learning a new system, a new playbook, a new coordinator, and you've got to go through a learning curve.
''But in my analysis of it, I thought that we might take a step back, but hopefully it's with two or three steps forward.''
Although Bradley said he has not even thought about potential replacements, Jacksonville could reach out to fired Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman or San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Trestman and Bradley are close, and Roman and Caldwell were college roommates at John Carroll University.
Whoever ends up with the job will inherit a young offense that Bradley and Caldwell believe is on the verge of being special. Of course, that depends on Bortles making strides. The third overall draft pick completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,908 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He was sacked 55 times.
Although Bortles cut down on his turnovers - he threw three interceptions in the final six games - it didn't mean more production. The Jags scored just six offensive touchdowns in the final six games.
''There's a lot of stuff that's kind of hard to fix while you're playing,'' Bortles said Monday. ''You watch it and I know what I'm doing wrong and I know how to fix it, but I don't have the time to put the work in to get it to become muscle memory. That's the thing. I have a good understanding of what I need to do.''
The Jaguars are counting on Bortles improving - with a new coordinator.
''Rookies make their biggest jump from Year 1 to Year 2,'' Caldwell said. ''Do I think all 10 of them are going to be Pro Bowlers next year? No, but they'll take a step up. ... They will take a jump up. I believe that.''
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