The Jaguars are set to host the Browns in Week 12 of the 2020 regular season. Cleveland enters the contest with a 7-3 record, while Jacksonville is 1-9 and losers of nine straight contests. The Browns are 6.5 favorites, but covering will prove difficult for the Jaguars.
Mike Glennon's Duval Debut
The Jaguars are starting Mike Glennon over rookie Jake Luton, who started the previous three games for the Jaguars, and Gardner Minshew, who is now healthy enough to play. Why? Luton wasn't getting the job done, leading the offense to just one touchdown drive over the last two weeks. Jags' HC Doug Marrone claims he wants to get Minshew a full week of practice before returning to the starting lineup, but when has Mike Glennon gotten a full week of reps? The seven-year vet will make his first start for the Jaguars. He's a statue in the pocket with a decent arm, but if he's shown us anything throughout his career, it's that he's not an NFL starter. Perhaps the 6'7" QB who boasts a 6-16 record as a starter will prove me wrong; perhaps not.
Like many teams around the league, the Jaguars and Browns are both dealing with COVID situations inside their locker rooms. As of this writing, the Browns are down five players due to COVID protocols, including one of the top pass rushers and overall defenders in football, Myles Garrett. The Jaguars will be down three defensive coaches, including defensive coordinator Todd Wash. The other two defensive assistants out for this contest are defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich and defensive assistant Dwayne Stukes. Safeties coach Joe Danna will call the defense for the Jags, while assistant linebackers coach Tony Gilbert will coach the defensive line, and Director of Team Administration Tyler Wolf will handle Stukes' game-day responsibilities. Veteran players like Abry Jones had to chip in and help coach the defense through drills this week. Kicker Chase McLaughlin, who has been the Jaguars' place kicker for the last two games, is also on the COVID list. Aldrick Rosas, who made 4/5 field goal tries in his lone start for the Jaguars this year, will kick field goals this Sunday.
The Jaguars will be without many impact players due to injury. Pass rusher Josh Allen hit the IR this week with a leg injury, as did cornerbacks Chris Claybrooks and DJ Hayden. Cornerback Sidney Jones (achilles), offensive guard (forearm), and receivers DJ Chark (ribs) and Chris Conley (hip) are all out this week. The Browns' most impactful injury situation is with cornerback Denzel Ward, who will be out at least a couple of weeks with a calf strain. Cleveland's top passing game threat, Odell Beckham, tore his ACL in week seven and is out for the year.
Rookie Impact on Offense
James Robinson has been the engine for the Jaguars' offense, but his rookie classmate, receiver Laviska Shenault has been held out since November 8th due to a hamstring injury. Shenault had also been a focal point for the Jags prior to his injury. He's hauled in 30 catches in nine games (the ninth was shortened due to injury) and also carried the ball 11 times. If the Big Cats hope to keep up in this one, Robinson and Shenault will need to come up big.
A Young Defensive Interior
If the Jaguars are going to slow down running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, their two rookie interior defensive linemen will need to lead the way. DaVon Hamilton and Doug Costin have been playing strong football when paired together on the interior. Slowing down Chubb and Hunt will be their toughest task yet and might require a near-perfect performance. Of course, the rest of the front seven will need to step up and play well too.
Cowboys' strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul passed away this week at the age of 54. The entire NFL has mourned him in recent days, especially Doug Marrone. The Jaguars' head coach played with Paul at Syracuse and then coached along side him in New York in 2005. Marrone spoke with the media on Friday, sharing how difficult this week has been, and offered his thoughts and prayers to Paul's family.
COVID has been altering the NFL's plans in recent weeks, and the Jags and Browns have been significantly affected. While anything is possible in this wild 2020 season, the Jaguars don't appear to have enough firepower or the defensive pieces to keep up with the Browns on Sunday. If the Jaguars lose their 10th straight game, they'll continue on the path towards a top-two pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets, the only team in front of the Jaguars in draft order, host the Dolphins on Sunday. Should the Jets win their first game of 2020, the Jags will jump to number one overall in the upcoming draft with a loss to the Browns.
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