JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars as they prepare to play the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. Sunday at 1 p.m.
1.Quarterback is what it is right now. Quarterback Mike Glennon, making a second consecutive start, led a clutch game-tying drive on the Jaguars' final possession of regulation Sunday. He did many good things on that drive but committed three critical turnovers Sunday – including an interception that gave the Vikings a short field in overtime and essentially secured the Jaguars' 11th consecutive loss. The game summed up much about the Jaguars' quarterback situation this season. Games 1-7 starter Gardner Minshew II didn't secure the position during his opportunity and Games 8-10 starter Jake Luton didn't secure it during his opportunity, either. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone after the game said he planned to stay with Glennon this week, a move many observers may question considering Minshew is now healthy from the thumb injury that kept him out the last four games. But the reality is this: the Jaguars' quarterback of the future isn't on the roster – and that's not going to change no matter who plays quarterback in the last four games. Staying with Glennon is as good an option as any, and there's probably not much difference in what player gives this team the best chance to win.
2.The fight remains. Yes, this has become something of a weekly Quick Thought – because it has become a weekly theme for this team. The Jaguars, after losing six consecutive games in one-sided fashion, have been far more competitive – with significant effort and desire – in five games since a Week 8 bye. The Jaguars since then have sustained narrow, final-quarter losses to the playoff-contending Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, and Cleveland Browns in addition to a 27-3 loss to unbeaten Pittsburgh. Sunday continued in that vein, with the Jaguars leading the entire first half for the first time this season and fighting gamely until the Glennon's overtime interception and subsequent game-winning Vikings drive. Marrone said last week the team would do whatever it could to win as many games as possible the rest of the season. The Jaguars backed up that statement Sunday.
3.The defense once again deserves credit. This has turned into something of weekly Quick Thought, too – but if there's repetition here, it's because some things have happened consistently lately. Among those things: a dramatically improved defensive effort – and performance – despite a rash of deep-cutting injuries to the unit. After allowing 30 points in all six games leading into the bye, the defense hasn't allowed 30 in a game since – and Sunday marked perhaps its best performance during that span. The defensive line harassed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins – the NFL's Offensive Player of the Week last week – throughout the first half and pressured him into a key second-half interception that middle linebacker Joe Schobert turned into a 43-yard touchdown. The unit also limited running back Dalvin Cook, who entered the game as the NFL's second-leading rusher, to 21 first-half yards before Cook and the Vikings' finally wore down an injury-plagued Jaguars defense in overtime. Considering the front-line players out with injuries – a list that included defensive end Josh Allen, safety Daniel Thomas, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, cornerbacks Sidney Jones IV and CJ Henderson and strongside linebacker Kamalei Correa – and a slew of other contributors, it was a remarkable effort against an offense that entered the game playing a high level. That group should be commended – even if the effort didn't result in a victory.
1.Ready to play. The defense showed up ready to play against an offense that was operating at a very high level. They kept Cousins guessing where the pressure was coming from, bottled up Cook – the NFL's second-leading rusher entering the game – and made game-changing plays to start the third and fourth quarters when everyone expected the Vikings to take over and continue their playoff push. Now, consider who they had on the field! I was all over the flip card looking at numbers and names as the Jaguars were making their stand. Greg Maybin, Daniel Ekuale, Aaron Lynch, Doug Costin and Joe Giles-Harris were all on the field on Sunday in Minnesota when the game was in doubt. Raise your hand if you can honestly say you thought this group could run with the Vikings offense. It's too much to expect them to be able to overcome four turnovers by the offense. It was a strong performance by those guys and the defensive staff.
2.Not good but good enough. The Jaguars' offense wasn't very good in Minnesota. Turnovers, penalties and a safety nearly sunk them on Sunday, but they were good enough when it counted at the end of regulation. Give Glennon some credit: he completed six of seven on the final drive. Wide receivers DJ Chark Jr and Collin Johnson made big plays down the field and finally, finally they connected on a two-point conversion.
3.Winning requires better quarterback play. The Jaguars don't have a franchise quarterback, but they'll have a shot at landing one come April's NFL Draft. Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields throwing to Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr. and Johnson would be fun to watch with running back James Robinson teeing them up with play action. I've written it all season and it's still true: this roster has some promising young talent, but without the quarterback it's hard to see.