Few franchises know more about issues at the quarterback position than the Jacksonville Jaguars, but 2020 has been something else even for them.
The Jaguars (1-9) will start their third different quarterback this season and sixth different quarterback since the 2018 season when Mike Glennon gets the start in Week 12 against the Cleveland Browns. For Glennon, it is his first start in over three years. For the Jaguars, it is the latest example of how the lack of a franchise quarterback can hinder a roster.
So with it now a lock that Glennon will be under center for the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday, what does this mean for the present and the future? We break down our observations of the moves here.
Is Gardner Minshew healthy or not? If he is, why isn't he playing?
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II will miss his fourth consecutive game as a result of his right thumb injury, but Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday that as long as Minshew throws well in practice this week, he will be the backup on Sunday. If Minshew is healthy enough to be the backup and potentially step in for Mike Glennon, then why isn't he healthy enough to get the start?
Marrone himself even said this week that both Minshew and the trainers believe he is on the right track. Then marrone on Wednesday said this is essentially the final stage for Minshew's recovery.
“I’ve got to see him throw. I’ve seen him throw a little bit, I want to see him throw a whole thing. I’ll have a better feel for it. The trainers and everyone, and Gardner said he feels good, he feels 100 percent," Marrone said Monday. "But I just want to make sure that myself, Ben [McAdoo] and Jay [Gruden] are able to see it and watch it before. A trainer’s evaluation of someone throwing is a little bit different than a coach’s evaluation.”
But if Minshew is progressing to the point where he can be active on game day, what real reason is there to not start him on Sunday? Marrone mentioned he wants the starter to be able to throw all week and get the entire week of reps, but Minshew wouldn't be the first quarterback to start a game with limited practice reps that week.
If Minshew is healthy enough to play, he gives the Jaguars the best chance to win. By him not starting this week, it says that Marrone and his staff either believe he isn't yet healthy enough or simply that they don't think he is the best option.
There is little upside, if any at all, to playing Glennon
It is understandable why the Jaguars pulled Jake Luton. His four-interception performance against the Steelers Week 11 was arguably the worst game a quarterback has played in the NFL this season, and it isn't like he was that much better against Green Bay the previous week. But in the long- and short-term, is there any upside to playing Glennon? He has made 22 starts, has been in the league since 2013, and has 801 career passes. At this point Glennon, who is on his fifth team in five years, is a known product.
The Jaguars likely know the chances of him stepping onto the field and being a play-maker is near nonexistent. They will hope that he doesn't make the disastrous mistakes that Jake Luton made, but it is incredibly unlikely that he will be elevating the offense beyond that aspect. At least with Luton there was an argument to be made that seeing a larger sample size with him would benefit the team's roster-building moving forward as they decide on Luton's place in their future. With Glennon, there is no such argument to make.
This serves as a terrific third chance for Glennon
While it is unlikely that Glennon is able to turn this week's start into some type of career renaissance, Sunday at least gives him something that most quarterbacks don't get at the NFL level -- a third chance. Glennon got 18 starts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first two seasons of his career, but he wasn't able to do what he needed to do to hold onto the job. In Chicago, he turned it over eight times in four games and was benched just 16 quarters into his tenure as their starter.
But on Sunday, Glennon gets a chance to start for the first time since Week 4 in 2017. It will serve as a momentous day for the eighth-year veteran because he has had to watch from the sidelines every single Sunday since his debacle in Chicago. While it is far from an ideal situation considering Jacksonville's record, is there any reason to believe Glennon won't try to take this opportunity by the horns? He knows he may not get another one. After all, he almost didn't get this one.
“The thing to me is I have nothing to lose. I mean I haven’t been the starter in three years. I don’t know when this opportunity’s going to come again. I’m just going to go out there, have fun, let it rip, and see what happens," Glennon said on Wednesday. "We’re a 1-9 football team and I’m just going to do whatever I can to help us win. I’ve been through some good, I’ve been through some bad, and at this point in my career I just want to kind of go out and play like I have nothing to lose.”
The current regime has gotten all that it will out of the Jake Luton experiment
The chances of Jake Luton being able to turn his stint as the 2020 starter into a long-term starting role with the Jaguars were always slim to none. But the chances of him being able to prove his worth as a long-term backup, which is an ideal scenario for a sixth-round pick, was both very real and very much hoped for. But by playing so poorly in Week 11 that Marrone opted to reverse his thinking from just three weeks earlier and going with the aging journeyman over the rookie passer, we think Luton sealed his ultimate fate with the Jaguars.
Luton was likely always going to have to compete with Minshew to be the backup quarterback in 2021, but the Jaguars have now loudly stated that they think Luton isn't a better option than Glennon, who has not exactly been a winning NFL quarterback. They say they are still high on Luton, but chances are he has already played the most he will in Jacksonville. He had a chance to carve out a niche role for himself, but sixth rounders don't have the long leash other players do. Considering the current Jaguars' regime is on borrowed time, three starts looks to be all they will get out of Luton.
If any play-caller is equipped for a quarterback carousel, it is Jay Gruden
Many coaches would be handcuffed by having to go back-and-forth on quarterbacks. It is a difficult proposition for any play-caller to turn to a new passer on a weekly basis, especially when the offense around that passer is far from stellar. But if there is any play-caller who has experience with this type of situation, it is Jay Gruden.
This is the second time since 2014 that Gruden will call plays for his third different starting quarterback in one single season. Gruden did so as head of Washington in 2014, seeing Robert Griffiin III (seven starts), Kirk Cousins (five starts), and Colt McCoy (four starts) all get the call at one point or another to lead the offense. Then in 2018, Gruden coached Alex Smith (10 starts), Josh Johnson (three starts), Colt McCoy (two starts), and Mark Sanchez (one start). He has been through this type of thing before and knows the exact adjustments the Jaguars will have to make from a scheme and game planning standpoint. This may not make things any easier for Glennon and the Jaguars, but it certainly can't hurt, either.