With a seven-game losing streak intact, Jake Luton and the Jacksonville Jaguars head to Green Bay this Sunday for an ill-timed battle with the 6-2 Green Bay Packers.
And while the Jaguars have failed to win a ballgame since week one, the emergence of rookie quarterback Jake Luton in the Jaguars’ week-nine clash with the Houston Texans leaves room for optimism.
The sixth-round draft pick out of Oregon State matched some expectations but exceeded most with his performance, as he averaged eight yards per passing attempt. And as predicted, he let the ball fly.
Luton’s Impressive Debut
On his first drive as an NFL quarterback, Luton connected with D.J. Chark for a 73-yard touchdown pass.
That would be his only touchdown through the air, but he later added three more “big-time throws.” That statistic simply captures how many times Luton threw a well-placed ball downfield and allowed for the receiver to advance the ball further after the catch.
For reference, that number was good enough to tie Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr for the week nine lead in the advanced metric.
But Luton wasn’t just a threat through the air. He added another score on the ground with an impressive show of athleticism that was uncommon but not unseen while he was at Oregon State.
On the day, Luton threw for 304 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 26-of-38 passing. Add in 13 rushing yards and a rushing score on just one carry, and that’s not a bad debut.
But perhaps Luton’s greatest surprise was that he nearly outdueled two-time Pro Bowl quarterback DeShaun Watson in the 27-25 loss.
Luton hopes to continue building on his impressive debut, as he is zeroing in on facets of his game that require improvement.
Marrone on Luton
Just like the rest of the NFL universe, Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone was impressed by Luton’s week nine debut.
But Marrone also believes that the rookie will have to continue progressing in order to overcome the increased difficulty that will come as teams collect more tape on the young quarterback.
Luton Takes on a Childhood Idol
Luton’s task on Sunday is certainly made easier by the absence of fans at the historic Lambeau Field, but he will somehow need to lead a more potent offensive charge than the Jaguars achieved in week nine.
The Aaron Rodgers-led Packers’ offense ranks third in the NFL in scoring, with 31.6 points per game, and seventh in yardage, with 395.9 yards per game.
Aaron Rodgers threw his first NFL pass in 2005.
Jake Luton had just started fourth grade. pic.twitter.com/vCtRI1prTi
— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) November 12, 2020
Those statistics do not bode well for a Jaguars defensive unit that is allowing 30.9 points per game and 418.1 yards per game. Both figures are good for second-to-last in the NFL.
To keep pace with the Packers’ scoring ability, the Jaguars will have to lean on Luton to lead productive drives that eat the clock and result in points — not turnovers.
Perhaps he could mimic one of his childhood idols, Aaron Rodgers, who will be watching the rookie work from the opposing sideline.
Looking Ahead for the Jags
Sunday’s interconference match-up with the Packers serves as the front end for the Jaguars’ daunting season-ending stretch.
Once they return to Jacksonville, they’ll begin preparing for match-ups with two strong playoff contenders from the AFC North.
First, the Jaguars welcome the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in week 11. Then they’ll host the 5-3 Cleveland Browns in week 12.
After that, it doesn’t get much easier.
Jacksonville travels to 3-5 Minnesota in week 13, but the last four games pit the Jaguars against teams with winning records.
The combined win-loss record for the teams remaining on the Jaguars’ schedule: 45-22.
With that in mind, it remains possible that the only contest that the Jaguars can win moving forward in 2020 is the fight for the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Week 10: at Packers (6-2)
Week 11: vs Steelers (8-0)
Week 12: vs Browns (5-3)
Week 13: at Vikings (3-5)
Week 14: vs Titans (6-2)
Week 15: at Ravens (6-2)
Week 16: vs Bears (5-4)
Week 17: at Colts (5-3)
Figure Jax best shot at win is against Bears. https://t.co/9PHCesOgej
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) November 10, 2020