JACKSONVILLE – Quarterback was a topic for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone Wednesday.
And why not?
With the Jaguars changing quarterbacks for a fourth time this season, and with Sunday's opponent featuring last season's NFL Most Valuable Player at quarterback, the position quite naturally was a topic for Marrone during his weekly Wednesday videoconference.
He touched first on his confidence level in Gardner Minshew II, who started the season as the Jaguars' starter and who on Sunday will become their third starting quarterback in five games.
"When you're a coach and you name someone who's going to play, I think you're always going to have full confidence," Marrone said as the Jaguars (1-12) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (8-5) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., Sunday at 1 p.m.
Minshew, who started Games 1-7, replaced Mike Glennon in the third quarter of a 31-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday. He completed 18 of 31 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
Minshew, who has completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 2,033 yards and 14 touchdowns with five interceptions this season, missed four games with a thumb issue and was a healthy backup to Glennon the last two weeks. Glennon had started the last three games after rookie Jake Luton started the first three games after Minshew's injury.
"I don't think you're ever going to say, 'Well, we'll put him out there and I have my fingers crossed,''' Marrone said. "Anyone you're putting out there to do a certain assignment – special teams, defense, offense … -- you have to have that type of confidence in them."
Another major topic for Marrone Wednesday:
The challenge of stopping the Ravens' offense, which leads the NFL in rushing – and which is led by perhaps 2020 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
Jackson threw for 3,127 yards and an NFL-best 36 touchdowns last season and has 2,218 yards passing and 18 touchdowns this season. He has rushed for 793 yards and six touchdowns this season after setting an NFL record for yards rushing in a season by a quarterback last season with 1,206 and seven touchdowns.
"It's not difficult to simulate the schematics of it," Marrone said of preparing for Jackson and the Ravens. "What is difficult is the speed of it. I think that's the one thing you see with Lamar. You know he has a good arm and he can throw it, but the speed of him on the field … he always looks like the fastest guy on the field, and that's a credit to him. …
"What's hard to simulate are those angles and the way you have to kind of corral him or keep him in a web where you can get him down. If you take the wrong angle and you don't go the right track, they can take it to the house at any time."
Marrone said the reality is that to simulate Jackson while preparing for the Ravens, "you'd have to go out there and get truly an Olympic sprinter."
"It's hard," Marrone said. "I think everyone has a difficult time doing that. We'll take a good look at it and get somebody back there with a little more speed at times when we need to do that."
Marrone said left guard Andrew Norwell, out the last three weeks with a forearm injury, expects to play Sunday. Center Brandon Linder is expected to miss a second consecutive game Sunday with an ankle injury. That means swing guard/center Tyler Shatley will start at center Sunday. Rookie Ben Bartch, who started at left guard Sunday, was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Tuesday. "There's a good chance," Marrone said. "His mindset right now is he's playing. Something would have to happen to him during practice or during the week for him to not play right now. That's what the plan is."
Marrone on the Ravens' dramatic 47-42 victory over the Cleveland Browns Monday: "I look at the games, obviously, differently [than many fans]. [But] I really felt on the edge of my seat. It was exciting. It was drama. It was almost like a perfect script to an unbelievable game. I just took a step back in that moment and just really appreciated it like a fan and really enjoyed the game."