Each week this season, I’ll be highlighting a few specific Jacksonville Jaguars players that I’ll be keeping my eye on based on how they’ve played so far and how I expect them to play in the future.
With the Jaguars (1-9) coming off a rough 27-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are several players worth tracking over the course of the week. Here is who I’ll be watching for in Week 12 against the Cleveland Browns.
QB Mike Glennon
With Jake Luton coming off a four-interception performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Gardner Minshew still not quite ready to play (hand injury), Mike Glennon is getting the nod for Jacksonville’s Week 12 bout with the Cleveland Browns.
Sunday will be Glennon’s first start in three years. He was drafted in the third round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013 and started 13 games his rookie season, but started just five games through the next three seasons. He then signed with the Chicago Bears in 2017, where he started the first four games of the season, but was replaced by Mitch Trubisky and hasn’t started a game since.
At this point in his career, Glennon’s role is clear- a journeyman backup quarterback. He is averaging a 60.9% completion percentage, 6.4 yards per attempt and 84.3 passer rating on his career- for reference, those marks would all rank bottom-six among 33 eligible quarterbacks this season. Glennon has also produced the second-lowest average Expected Points Added (EPA) per dropback among 54 qualifying quarterbacks since 2013, ahead of only former Jacksonville 10th-overall pick Blaine Gabbert (per RBSDM.com).
Luton almost played like an anti-Minshew, as he was willing to make daring throws and take deep shots that Minshew would’ve never considered, but that formula clearly didn’t work against an elite Steelers defense. It will be interesting to see whether Glennon will be as aggressive as Luton, as conservative as Minshew, or somewhere in between this week against the Browns.
OG Tyler Shatley
Starting left guard Andrew Norwell will miss Sunday’s game with an arm injury that he suffered last week against the Steelers. Tyler Shatley replaced Norwell for the remainder of the game and is expected to start in his place this week.
Shatley has played 30-plus snaps in five games this season, as he replaced an injured Brandon Linder in weeks 2, 3, 4 and 10 and replaced an injured A.J. Cann in week 7. Sunday was Shatley’s first snaps at left guard since week 15 of 2017, and he performed fairly well, as he allowed one pressure and registered a 73.4 Pro Football Focus pass block grade.
The Jaguars offensive line ranks bottom-10 in both PFF’s and ESPN’s team pass block metrics this season. Fortunately for Jacksonville, Cleveland will be without Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garrett, who is tied for the league-lead with 9.5 sacks this season.
Shatley will play primarily against Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi, each of whom ranks in the bottom half of the league in PFF grade among 140 qualifying interior defensive linemen. Richardson and Ogunjobi rank outside the top-50 in PFF pass-rush grade but within the top-50 in both pressures and sacks- Garrett’s dominance likely allowed them to cash in on cumulative stats despite not being overly efficient themselves.
If Jacksonville’s offensive tackles are able to keep edge rushers Olivier Vernon, Porter Gustin, and Adrian Clayborn in check (which is admittedly a big ‘if’), Shatley and the rest of the interior line shouldn’t have too much trouble against Cleveland’s interior rushers.
LB Joe Schobert,
2020 free agent signee Joe Schobert will face a familiar opponent this week, as Schobert was a former Cleveland fourth-round draft pick and started for the Browns the past three seasons while earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2017.
Schobert and the rest of the Jaguars defense will need to bring its A-game, as the Browns feature one of the best rushing attacks in the league. Cleveland ranks top-10 in both PFF’s and ESPN’s team run block metrics, as well as in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards, and rank first in non-quarterback team rushing yards per game. Nick Chubb ranks first in yards per carry, explosive rush rate (per Sharp Football Stats) and rush yards over expected per attempt (per Next Gen Stats) among all running backs, and Kareem Hunt isn’t too far behind him.
The Jaguars are allowing the 13th-most rushing yards to opposing running backs this season, but that’s in large part because it leads the league in time of possession when trailing (per Football Outsiders) and thus teams run with positive game scripts against Jacksonville. However, Jacksonville has actually been solid against the run this season from an efficiency perspective, as it surprisingly ranks second in ESPN’s team run stop win rate and in the top half of the league in PFF team run defense grade and defensive adjusted line yards.
Since its week 8 bye, the Jaguars rank sixth in rushing EPA per play allowed after ranking 19th before the bye. Jacksonville’s improvement is due in large part to the play of Schobert- he had 38 tackles (5.4 per game) and a 61.5 PFF run defense grade before the bye but has a team-high 21 tackles (9.0 per game) and a 76.1 PFF run defense grade since the bye.
Schobert will need to continue to improve and have a strong game alongside Myles Jack (who ranks fifth in PFF run defense grade among linebackers this season) in order to slow down the Browns' explosive rushing offense.
CB Luq Barcoo
As previously noted, opposing teams run against Jacksonville often (on 46% of plays compared to the league average of 42%) in large part because teams are able to build and keep leads against the Jaguars. But what’s interesting is that opposing pass rates are actually higher than expected (a difference of +3%) against Jacksonville this season when including factors like game script.
This is almost entirely due to Jacksonville’s porous secondary, which teams are wisely taking advantage of- like last week when Pittsburgh passed on 70% of its offensive plays despite holding a double-digit lead for the majority of the game. The Jaguars rank middle-of-the-pack in most rush defense metrics but bottom-three in defensive pass DVOA and completion percentage, yards per attempt and EPA per dropback allowed.
Jacksonville’s pass-defense woes came with outside cornerbacks C.J. Henderson and Sidney Jones playing the majority of the snaps, but now the secondary has been hit with the injury bug- Henderson, cornerback D.J. Hayden and safety Daniel Thomas have all been placed on injured reserve and will therefore miss this week’s game, while Jones is doubtful after missing last week’s game with an Achilles injury.
That would leave Jacksonville with Tre Herndon, Chris Claybrooks, Josiah Scott and Luq Barcoo to handle cornerback duties on Sunday (assuming Jones is out for a second-straight game). Herndon played on the outside last week but should be expected to return to the slot with Hayden out, which leaves the perimeter to a trio of rookie cornerbacks. Claybooks has easily played the most snaps of the three and should accordingly play the most snaps on Sunday, while Barcoo is likely to play more than Scott after out-snapping him last week 18 to 4. Barcoo led the NCAA in interceptions and pass breakups last season but will play in just his second career NFL game this week.
The Browns' passing offense hasn’t been nearly as prolific as its rushing offense, partly due to Baker Mayfield’s continued underwhelming play, but also due in large part to recent weather. Cleveland has played in rainy/windy conditions in each of its past three games, which has led to the heaviest early down, neutral situation run rate in the league in the past month (66% per RBSDM.com). Cleveland’s pass game isn’t as elite as it’s run game, but it shouldn’t be a surprise if Mayfield and co. are able to move the ball successfully through the air against a criminally inexperienced Jaguars secondary.