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It's a mystery to Blake Bortles why he leads NFL in dubious statistic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Nobody has had more passes batted down at or behind the line of scrimmage over the past four-plus seasons than Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.

And it's not even close.

Per ESPN Stats & Information, Bortles has had 60 passes batted down since he entered the NFL in 2014. Miami's Ryan Tannehill is a distant No. 2 with 44. They're the only players with more than 40. Some others for comparison: Matt Ryan has 34, Cam Newton has 30 and Derek Carr, who also was a rookie in 2014, has 28.

Bortles, by the way, is 6-foot-5 -- an inch taller than Tom Brady (who has 28 batted passes over the same span) and 5 inches taller than Drew Brees (31).

Bortles has no idea why he has so many more than any other quarterback.

"It's going to happen, but there are times where as soon as it came out of my hand, I was like, 'Man, I could have done something differently to avoid that,'" Bortles said. "Some of it is communication, letting the guys up front know, whether it's a huddle call or whether it's a check at the line of scrimmage. We have calls that allow them to know that it's coming out quick and go help get the guy's hands down. It's a little bit of everything. I think that can help out, for sure."

Bortles had three passes batted down in last Sunday's loss to the New York Jets, all by defensive end Kony Ealy. At least one of them was the result of his arm slot. All quarterbacks change their release point based on situations. They'll try to throw the ball around a rusher instead of over at times and try to throw the ball with almost a sidearm motion to get it underneath a player's upraised arms.

"I was trying to throw a slant to Keelan [Cole] to the left that I tried to sidearm it and throw it in between guys rather than over the top, and it got batted down," Bortles said. "Some of it is arm angle, throwing it too low rather than just trying to get it over the top of guys."

One of the batted passes against the Jets was intercepted. It was a screen pass Bortles tried to throw over Ealy, who tipped the ball, caught it and returned the pick to the Jaguars’ 7-yard line.

Bortles had another pass batted down on a rollout.

Those batted passes are the quarterback's fault, coach Doug Marrone said. But the ones that come at the line of scrimmage can be the fault of the offensive linemen who didn't do their job and keep the defensive linemen's hands down, Marrone said.

"If it comes from up front, we have to press and push and keep people's hands down," Marrone said. "Some of those, obviously, that is the only answer that you can really give. The other part, when you're out there alone, you have to find those windows and get that ball around those defenders."

It is frustrating for Bortles, especially when the batted balls come on a third down or when he has a wide open receiver. He's trying to have a sense of humor about it, though, because when he was asked what he can do to avoid having his throws knocked down, he smiled and said: "I guess, not hit their hands."