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Blake Bortles grateful for teammates’ support amid heavy criticism

Blake Bortles has been widely mocked and ridiculed over the past handful of seasons. And much of the criticism of the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback was arguably warranted, as he has struggled mightily more often than not.

But here the Jaguars are, set to face the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Some may argue that the Jaguars have a chance to reach the Super Bowl in spite of Bortles, not because of him. But it’s clear his teammates do not necessarily feel that way. And Bortles cannot overstate how much he appreciates how his teammates have defended him again and again amid heavy criticism coming from outside the organization.

“That type of stuff for me is big. I don’t care much about what is said outside our locker room,” Bortles said Wednesday, via Pro Football Talk. “What I care about is inside that locker room. Those are the opinions I care about. When other people say stuff, it doesn’t bother me. But to see guys in that locker room stand up for me and say stuff, it’s pretty cool,” Bortles said. “Because those are the opinions I value and the guys I want to impress and do well for.”

Bortles hasn’t exactly dazzled in the postseason, as he actually put up more rushing yards (88) than passing (87) in Jacksonville’s 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round. But the case can be made Bortles put in a clutch performance last Sunday when he led the Jags’ to a stunning 45-42 upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.

The notion that Bortles is in the throes of a career redemption cannot be understated. And if he can somehow pull off another monumental upset by doing his part to upend the Patriots on Sunday? The litany of haters might have no choice but to eat their words.