JACKSONVILLE – The day was long and difficult – really long and really difficult.
The aftermath reflected as much.
Jaguars rookie quarterback Jake Luton threw four interceptions in his third NFL start, and Head Coach Doug Marrone was succinct when discussing the performance following a 27-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at TIAA Bank Field Sunday.
"I thought it was a tough day for him," Marrone said, saying the reason was "probably a little bit of everything" and specifying a Steelers defense with a reputation as one of the NFL's best.
"They're mixing it up a bunch, pressuring enough, so there's a lot of things going on out there," Marrone added. "So, it was a tough day."
Luton, a sixth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, moved into the starting lineup three games ago when it was revealed quarterback Gardner Minshew II had a thumb issue. Minshew threw in practice this past week and was inactive Sunday.
Luton completed 16 of 37 passes for 151 yards Sunday and was sacked twice by a Steelers defense that entered the game leading the NFL with 36 sacks and 17 takeaways.
"I don't think it (the Steelers' defense disrupted my rhythm)," Luton said. "I'm here to go through my reads and get the ball to my playmakers and I didn't do a good enough job of that. I thought the offensive line did a good job giving me enough time to get the ball out, but I just didn't execute."
Marrone said he considered playing Mike Glennon – the Jaguars' backup quarterback and the only quarterback aside from Luton and Minshew on the team's roster Sunday.
"I kind of went back and forth a little bit and in truth, just thinking to myself, 'Do we keep him (Luton) in there? You talk about getting him experience. Is that going to give him experience? Is that good enough for where we are?'" Marrone said.
Of the quarterback situation moving forward, Marrone said "I think during the week we'll evaluate it. I don't think I'll have an answer on Monday when I get asked the question. But I think as the week goes, we'll take a look and see what we can do, what's the best thing for our team."
Luton, who threw a touchdown and an interception in his first two games as a starter – losses to Houston and Green Bay – was subdued in a post-game videoconference and patiently answered all questions.
"You have to play each play," he said. "My college offensive coordinator, he always told me 'one snap and clear;' no matter what happens on the last play, you've got to play the next one. Whatever happened last time, you can't let it affect you. That's the mindset I try to have. Unfortunately, that kept pouring into another bad play and into another bad play and I can't let that happen. I've got to clear it and move on to the next snap."
Rookie running back James Robinson rushed for 73 yards on 17 carries Sunday, giving the undrafted rookie free agent 762 yards and five touchdowns on 172 carries for the season. "He does well," Marrone said. "I just feel bad we can't get a lead and get him more carries. His production would be even higher. He's obviously a good football player for us." Robinson on Sunday rushed for 20 yards on four carries on the first drive, on which he also caught a 15-yard pass; that drive led to the Jaguars' only score Sunday – a 41-yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin. Robinson had 50 yards on 11 first half carries and 23 yards on six carries in the second half. "I think we were just trying to stick with our running game and trying to get it going – and I feel like, at times, we were able to do that, and sometimes we weren't," Robinson said. "I'm going to be ready whether I get the football or not. It doesn't really matter how many times I get the ball. I've got to do my job, and everyone has to do their job. So whatever play gets called in the huddle, I have to do my job and we just have to execute on offense."
Jaguars rookie safety Daniel Thomas sustained an arm injury Sunday and will be placed on injured reserve, Marrone said. Four other players left Sunday's game with injuries: defensive end Josh Allen (knee), guard Andrew Norwell (arm), cornerback DJ Hayden (knee) and cornerback Chris Claybrooks (groin). Marrone said he had no immediate updates on the four other players.
Marrone on the difficult circumstances of a nine-game losing streak: "I have zero issues (with the players), none. Everyone comes to practice, everyone works hard, everyone supports each other. The record is obviously bad, I get that. I wish I could do something for them. … I think there's something in there with these guys. They care, you can tell. You don't play like they're playing if you don't care. I told them after the game, 'Hey listen. I love this team.' And I do. I really do. You have a bunch of young men in that locker room and they're young guys. Their resiliency is really starting to show, and it'll continue to show — I really believe that — for the remainder of this season."
Luton: "We love Coach [Marrone]. He's always there for us and is real uplifting but he tells us how it is. The guys want to play hard for him regardless of what the situation is and not only that, but the guys want to go out and win."