Evaluating the Jaguars' Quarterback Options Behind Gardner Minshew

Which backup quarterback should get the nod if Gardner Minshew isn't able to play in Week 9?
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Questions at the quarterback position aren't going away for the Jacksonville Jaguars, even during the team's bye week.

On Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that X-rays have shown that Jaguars starting quarterback Gardner Minshew II has multiple fractures and a strained ligament in his right thumb, calling into question if Minshew will miss time with injury for the first time in his NFL career. 

Minshew was already fending off debates about his own job security, with the second-year passer struggling mightily over the last three seasons as the Jaguars have dropped to 1-6. Now it will have to be determined whether Minshew is able to take the field in Week 9 against the Houston Texans. 

If Minshew isn't able to play in Week 9 due to his thumb injury, who would take his place under center -- Jake Luton or Mike Glennon? We break down the two feasible options on the roster in the event Minshew actually does miss any time, which is far from a definite. Again, this is just a look at his backups in the hypothetical scenario in which he doesn't play against Houston next Sunday.

Mike Glennon

Jacksonville's most experienced quarterback, Mike Glennon was signed this offseason to ensure the Jaguars weren't walking into 2020 with a second-year quarterback as their most NFL seasoned passer. 

While Glennon certainly would give the Jaguars a veteran presence at quarterback who would likely be comfortable in Jay Gruden's scheme, there is zero upside to Glennon seeing the field for the Jaguars. He has traditionally struggled as a passer against pressure, which is the biggest reason Minshew outshined Nick Foles last season. 

Minshew isn't great against pressure either, but he can at least create with his legs and give the offense a chance. Glennon, like Foles, is more of a statue pocket passer. Putting him behind Jacksonville's offensive line would likely be asking for trouble.

Glennon has 22 starts in his career and has played with Oakland (2019), Arizona (2018) and Chicago (2017) after beginning his career in Tampa Bay (2013-16), where he was originally drafted by the Buccaneers in the third round (73rd overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. He has completed 488-of-801 passes (60.9 completion %) for 5,163 yards and 36 touchdowns with 20 interceptions. 

Glennon, who is 6-16 as a starter, has a career quarterback rating of 84.3 and has averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt in his career. If using ESPN's QBR metric, Glennon has finished with a QBR of below 54 in every season in which he started more than two games.

Despite Glennon struggling throughout training camp and being among the team's initial group of released players when they cut down to a 53-man roster, Glennon has been Jacksonville's backup quarterback in every game this season. He has of course yet to take a snap, but he has been the only quarterback other than Minshew to be on the active game day roster this season. If Minshew had ever been injured or benched during one of the first seven games, Glennon would have taken his place on the field. 

Ultimately Glennon is an immobile passer who doesn't push the ball downfield. He has plenty of size and a terrific arm, but there isn't much to suggest that he would be able to find success in Minshew's replace.

Jake Luton

Nobody is ever as popular as the rookie quarterback on a bad team. It was the case with Minshew last season and has seemingly become the case with Luton this season, with many clamoring for him to be the natural option to step in for Minshew. Considering Luton is an unknown commodity, especially compared to Glennon, it makes sense why this is the case.

Selected in the sixth round with the No. 189 overall pick, Luton became the third quarterback in a row Jacksonville had selected in the sixth round, following Minshew and Tanner Lee.

Luton (6-feet-6, 224 pounds) threw 28 touchdowns and three interceptions as a senior at Oregon State last season while also completing 62% of his passes. He wasn't seen as a premier quarterback prospect, but he certainly had his fans entering the draft process. It has been what he has done in his few moments on the field since he was drafted that has earned him even more fans, however. 

Luton was substantially more consistent and efficient throughout training camp than Glennon, and he initially made the roster as the team's second quarterback before Glennon was re-signed days later. By all accounts, he has more upside than Glennon and has left a significant mark on his coaches.

"Jake has been very impressive for a rookie quarterback and you guys have all been out there watching him throw and watching him practice. He actually made the decision relatively easy for us," general manager Dave Caldwell said after the first roster cuts were made. 

"Jake has been very impressive since the minute he walked into the building with his knowledge of the offense, his ability to learn, his ability to throw the ball, down the field, short passes with touch," offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said during training camp in August.

"I think that’s been the biggest pleasant surprise, I would say is his ability to come in here and learn. He plays with great poise and confidence for a young player. We put him in the number one huddle a couple times, and he has shown no sign of being intimidated. He fits right in there, like I said, he’s got great accuracy, he’s got great arm strength, so we’ve been very impressed with him."

Jacksonville's staff praised Glennon at times during camp too, but never to the degree that Luton got talked up. Despite this, Luton has been a healthy scratch for every single game this season. He impressed in August but due to a lack of preseason, we haven't seen anything from him other than practice reps. 

Overall

Which direction would the Jaguars go in for Week 9 if Minshew can't play is likely still up in the air. Logic says head coach Doug Marrone would prefer the veteran quarterback who has been his backup for the first seven games of the season, but the Jaguars have also shown how high they are on Luton.

Ultimately, there is no real reason the Jaguars shouldn't play Luton in any scenario in which Minshew isn't on the field. In a lost season, it is much more worthwhile to find out what you have in a rookie than it is to let Mike Glennon start for his fourth different team.