Jaguars have to keep starting Mike Glennon to have chance to snap losing streak

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone shouldn’t waste much time thinking about which quarterback he’s going to start this week against Minnesota: It has to be Mike Glennon.

The only debate for Marrone is whether to go with Gardner Minshew or Jake Luton as the backup.

Glennon completed 20-of-35 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, but most importantly drove the Jaguars down the field late and had them in position to tie the game and potentially force overtime against the Cleveland Browns. The Jaguars lost 27-25 at TIAA Bank Field but it was the best the offense has looked in more than a month.

Was Glennon perfect? Not at all. He air-mailed a couple passes – including one to a wide-open James O’Shaughnessy in the middle of the field late in the game -- and misfired on two others on two-point conversion attempts. He might have been able to run in one of those attempts because he had a clear path but hesitated and instead threw incomplete.

Even with those issues -- somewhat expected since this was the first time he was on the field since Nov. Nov. 24, 2019 -- Glennon gives the Jaguars, who have now lost 10 consecutive games, the best chance to win each week. While losing out and going 1-15 would be the best thing for the franchise’s future because it would guarantee the Jaguars at worst the No. 2 pick and a shot at Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, that’s not the way Marrone or any of the players are thinking. Nor should they be.

Organizations can tank, but players and coaches will not. So the Jaguars have to start Glennon to win as many games as possible over the next five weeks. There’s also this: Glennon is on a one-year deal and this will be an audition for his next contract, wherever that might be.

Sunday was Glennon’s first start since Sept. 28, 2017. He was with the Chicago Bears then, fresh off signing a three-year, $45 million contract to be their starter. Except the Bears had traded up to No. 2 little over a month later and selected Mitchell Trubisky. It was only a matter of time before Trubisky became the starter and it happened after Glennon threw for 833 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions and led the Bears to a 1-3 record.

Glennon said this past week that he feels like he’s better prepared to be a starter after getting only sparse action the last two seasons because he’s been in more offenses. His mind is freer, he said, and that’s keeping him from getting bogged down mentally.

Which means he can play more freely. As he also said earlier in the week, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever be in position to start a game again so he might as well let it rip.

He did against the Browns and he should keep the job the rest of the season.

Pivotal play: The Jaguars wouldn’t have had to try a game-tying two-point conversion with 2:14 to play had Marrone opted to keep a PAT on the board after a Glennon-to-Tyler Eifert touchdown pass in the third quarter. Cleveland’s Olivier Vernon was offside, however, and Marrone opted to take the point off the board and try a two-point play from the 2-yard line. Glennon misfired on a pass to Keelen Cole and the Jaguars’ lead was just 19-17. They were forced to try another two-point play late and Glennon -- who it appeared had a clear path to the end zone -- couldn’t connect with Collin Johnson in the back of the end zone.

Troubling trend: This was the Jaguars’ 10th loss in a row, which is a new single-season franchise record. The previous mark (which they tied last week against Pittsburgh) was set in 2016. That was coach Gus Bradley’s final season and he was fired after the ninth consecutive loss. In case anyone was wondering, the franchise’s overall record for consecutive losses is 13: The last five games of the 2012 season and the first eight games of the 2013 season.

The Jaguars would have to beat either Minnesota, Tennessee or Baltimore to keep from tying that mark.

What Sunday’s loss also did was give the Jaguars double-digit losses for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. The Jaguars have had only one winning season since 2007. That was 2017, when the Jaguars won the AFC South and made a surprising run to the AFC Championship game.

Troubling trend II: Defensive end Duwuane Smoot’ first-quarter sack of Baker Mayfield gave him 2.5 for the season, which ties him for the team lead with Josh Allen (currently on IR with a knee injury). It has been a disappointing season for Allen, who made the Pro Bowl after posting 10.5 sacks as a rookie last season, but part of the reason for his struggles is that he’s gotten no help from anyone else. First-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson hasn’t given the Jaguars much at all at defensive end: one sack and 11 tackles in 11 games (he didn’t appear on the stat sheet against the Browns).

Quarterback is by far the team’s biggest need but defensive line has to be the top priority after that. Not only on the outside but the inside as well. Undrafted rookie Doug Costin has out-performed 2018 first-round pick Taven Bryan at three-technique defensive tackle and the nose tackle spot has been underwhelming.

One of the most promising players was rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, but the third-round pick suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury and get carted off the field late in the game on Sunday.