Doug Marrone’s current task is less than enviable — he must lead a historically bad Jacksonville Jaguars football club to Minneapolis to square off with a Minnesota Vikings team that has won four of its last five games.
In what’s been a tumultuous 2020 season, the Jaguars have accumulated 10-consecutive losses after winning their first game of the season over an eventual playoff contender, the Indianapolis Colts.
That losing streak is a single-season franchise record. And, obviously, that’s not a milestone that the front office, coaches and players set out to achieve in the off-season.
Consequently, the Jaguars’ team plane will be a little lighter on its way to Minnesota. The team announced Sunday that it had parted ways with former general manager David Caldwell.
But even as team owner Shad Khan looks to spark change, head coach Doug Marrone is focused on extracting the best result possible on the field. Because he knows that no job is guaranteed in the National Football League — especially his.
Glennon Earns Second Straight Start
Whether it’s been because of injury or poor play, the Jaguars have had to play musical chairs in the quarterback room.
Both Gardner Minshew and rookie Jake Luton had ample opportunity to secure the starting job. But when Marrone and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden were left unsatisfied, journeyman Mike Glennon got the nod.
And in his season debut, he nearly led the lowly Jags to an upset win over the presumed playoff-bound Cleveland Browns.
Now, the veteran surely didn’t set the world on fire with his 235 yards through the air on 20-of-35 passing. Of course, he did pitch in two passing touchdowns — including a 46-yard dime to rookie Collin Johnson. But it was his veteran presence that likely secured another start.
Rookie Collin Johnson takes it 46-yards to the CRIB
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) November 29, 2020
The 2013 third-round pick from North Carolina State turned in a clean stat sheet in week 12.
And for the first time in the 2020 season, a quarterback finished a game for the Jacksonville Jaguars without a sack or interception. That mistake-free game played a big part in naming Glennon the week 13 starter, according to Marrone.
Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden noted that all three quarterbacks possess similar talent levels with the ball in their hands. But Gruden believes that Glennon’s poise in the pocket, combined with his ability to read defenses and adjust blocking schemes before the snap, gives Jacksonville the best chance to win in week 13.
Robinson Continues to Carry the Load
Perhaps the Jaguars’ most consistent glimmer of hope has come from undrafted rookie running back James Robinson.
The Illinois State product averages 4.6 yards-per-carry and needs just 110 yards to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards on the season.
Surpassing that mark seems more than manageable considering that Robinson is rushing for roughly 81 yards-per-game. Plus, he has rushed for more than 100 yards in four games this season.
With five games remaining, expect Robinson to join Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and Leonard Fournette as the only backs in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
With a 1-10 record, most Jacksonville fans are likely shifting their attention to the NFL Draft. And rightfully so.
It’s clear that Mike Glennon is nothing more than a placeholder at quarterback, and it remains to be seen whether the next general manager will reinvest in “Minshew Mania” or Jake Luton.
More likely than not, the team will move in a different direction, as generational quarterback Trevor Lawrence is likely to declare for the NFL Draft once the college football season comes to an end.
Trevor Lawrence: Only CFB QB with three 90+ grade seasons
▪️ 2018: 90.7
▪️ 2019: 91.1
▪️ 2020: 92.2 pic.twitter.com/yxAe0lHIyc
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 30, 2020
But as the season progresses, it appears more likely that the winless and lifeless New York Jets will secure the rights to the number one pick. And with that will come the rights to Lawrence.
Assuming that the Jaguars hold on to the league’s second-worst record, a number of other collegiate quarterbacks may pique their interest. There’s Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones, to name a few.
2021 Mock Draft QBs selected in the 1st round
(According to @ryanwilsonCBS)
1. Trevor Lawrence (Jets)
2. Justin Fields (Jags)
5. Zach Wilson (Washington)
12. Mac Jones (Pats)
16. Trey Lance (Bears) pic.twitter.com/lnqevh5YjO
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) November 30, 2020
And while Justin Fields is the current favorite, according to the experts, this is all speculative now.
The draft is a long way from today, and it remains to be seen what the Jaguars’ front office will prioritize. Perhaps they’ll address another position of need with their top-ten pick with the idea that Wilson, Lance or Jones will be available with their second first-round pick, acquired from the Los Angeles Rams for Jalen Ramsey.
And there’s always that quarterback setting records down in Gainesville, who should be available late in the first round, too.
Regardless, one has to think that one of those quarterbacks will see their name hanging above a cubby in the Jaguars’ locker room next spring.