Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone isn't the only member of the coaching staff to endorse Mike Glennon as the quarterback who gives them the best chance to beat the Minnesota Vikings this weekend.
Joining him in support of Glennon on Wednesday was offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who is 12 games into his tenure as Jacksonville's play-caller. Gruden was brought in to develop Gardner Minshew, but Gruden was on board with Marrone in deciding to play Glennon over a healthy Minshew this week as the Jaguars (1-10) attempt to snap a 10-game losing streak.
"I think Mike is probably our best option right now," Gruden explained Wednesday. "Post-snap, I think all three of them do some great things and obviously Mike showed some flashes of being really productive for us and the best option this week.”
Glennon will get his second consecutive start under Marrone and Gruden on Sunday. Minshew started the first seven games of the season but has not been active for any of the last four games due to a right thumb injury.
Rookie quarterback Jake Luton also took snaps at quarterback this season, starting from Week 9-11 and throwing six interceptions with two touchdown passes in the process. Luton was benched following a four-interception game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, opening the door for Glennon to start.
In large, Glennon gives the Jaguars an option that has not yet proven to be as turnover prone or as inconsistent against pressure when compared to Luton and Minshew. This, along with his experience, sounds like what sold the Jaguars on him as this week's starter.
“I think his poise, I think the time that he’s had in the National Football League has helped him," Gruden said. I can remember him in college at NC State. I think [he] didn’t have a great offensive line but he’s always had a great feel for sitting in the pocket, wait until the last second to deliver the ball, and he will take some hits because of that and possibly throw some air balls because of that.
"But he’s got a great feel for the pocket, good understanding of the game, concepts, defense, protections. I think the receivers and everybody liked his urgency in the huddle, communication. All that stuff plays a major role pre-snap."
But also likely playing a big role in the decision is that Glennon offers the Jaguars a sense of stability, something they haven't had at quarterback this season. Minshew reportedly injured his thumb in Week 5 against Houston and then played the next two games with the injury before alerting Marrone and his staff.
Since then, Minshew hasn't played. The reason for the first four weeks was due to his injury, but Minshew is now healed and no longer on the injury report. Uunfourtely for him, his recovery timed up with Glennon playing a solid game in Week 12.
Glennon completed 20-of-35 passes (57.1%) for 235 yards (6.7 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns in the 27-25 loss to the Browns. Other than two poorly executed passes on two-point conversions, Glennon played a mistake-free game and kept the Jaguars in it. Glennon had the 10th-best completion percentage over expectation in Week 12, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
“Well the tough thing right now for this football team is we’ve gone through obviously three quarterbacks and we’re talking each week to a different guy as a starter and they’re getting the reps and the other guy’s not," Gruden said. "Gardner hasn’t gotten first-team reps in about four or five weeks or what have you. It’s nice to have some stability at the position.
"We worked with Mike last week. We thought he did a good enough job to possibly win that game. We came up a little bit short, but we want to see how he progresses in game two and possibly game three. That’ll be up to Coach Marrone, but to change quarterbacks every week is not easy for any of the quarterbacks. I don’t think anybody’s given up on Gardner at all. I think this is just a matter of watching Mike after his first game in three and a half years, how well he did considering that. Let’s see what he does in game two against a very good Minnesota Viking defense.”