Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone will make a decision on his Week 12 starting quarterback at some point this week, but he wants more time before it is made official.
The Jaguars have faced the inevitability of having to choose between sixth-round rookie Jake Luton and second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II for three weeks now. But faced with Minshew's impending recovery from his thumb injury and the fallout from Luton's four-interception performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the decision is quickly approaching and becoming more real each day.
With that said, it isn't a decision Marrone and his staff were ready to make on Monday. Instead, it will come out after continued discussion with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo.
"I think myself, Jay and Ben have talked about it. But again, it’s tough on today, we’ve got to get through everything we have to get through," Marrone said on Monday.
"So, you know, we discussed it, we’re going to talk about it more later this evening, or late this afternoon, before we start game planning. Then, we’ll have to see where Gardner [Minshew II] is, see where Mike [ Glennon] is, see where Jake [Luton] is at. And then, obviously, make a decision, and go forward. So, we really haven’t had a lot of time to really sit down and hash it all out.”
With there only set to be a few more days before the Jaguars are set to the Cleveland Browns, expect for Marrone's decision on Minshew and Luton to come within the next few days. The next day Marrone is scheduled to speak is on Wednesday, which is likely when the official announcement will come in.
Ultimately, Marrone will have to decide if he has a better chance to find a win for his team over the next six weeks with Luton taking his rookie lumps or with Minshew fresh off the first significant injury of his NFL career.
Minshew has missed each of Jacksonville's last three games following a thumb injury he sustained in Week 5. Luton was given the nod to start in his place over veteran Mike Glennon, but he has gone 0-3 as the starter and his level of play has gotten worse each week.
Luton finished Sunday's 27-3 loss against Pittsburgh completing 16/37 passes (43.2%) for 151 yards (4.1 yards per attempt) and four interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 15.5. Through three games, Luton has completed 54.5% of his passes for 5.7 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and six interceptions, giving him a quarterback rating of 54.5.
It was clear in Week 11 that Luton's struggles were holding back the evaluation of the rest of the offense, but Marrone knows his rookie passer has the mental toughness to take the poor outing in stride.
"I don’t know. I mean, it’s a tough deal. It was good defense and good pass rush. [He] threw a couple of nice balls, would like to have some back, a couple got tipped," Marrone said Monday.
"Yeah, I mean, I think he’s a resilient kid. I trust him for that. He knows he has no choice but to be able to bounce back. But I don’t think that’s an issue either. He’s a tough kid.”
But Minshew started the season as Jacksonville's quarterback for a reason. He went 6-6 as a starter as a rookie and was set up by the franchise to be the face of the team in 2020. His injury, along with inconsistent play, derailed the plan to evaluate Minshew as a potential franchise quarterback.
Through seven games Minshew has completed 65.9% of his passes for 1,855 yards (6.9 yards per attempt) with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, giving him a quarterback rating of 94.4. Now, Minshew will have to prove to the Jaguars that he is healthy enough to operate the offense.
"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," Marrone said.
"The trainers and everyone, and Gardner said he feels good, he feels 100 percent. 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."