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Scouting the Browns’ Week 12 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars - Our Q&A with Big Cat Country

We ask about the Jaguars’ new starting quarterback this week, undrafted rookie James Robinson thriving at running back, the struggling defense, and more.

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Glennon? What year is this?
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. To help preview a few topics from Jacksonville’s perspective, we reached out to Ryan O’Bleness from Big Cat Country and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Glennon gets the start after not being a starter in years.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Chris: “The Jaguars are turning to veteran QB Mike Glennon this week. Is Gardner Minshew still too hurt to play? And do you support the change from Lutton to Glennon?”

Ryan: “Yes, Gardner Minshew is still recovering from a thumb injury. He did return to practice last week and has been getting in some limited sessions this week, but head coach Doug Marrone said Minshew can’t quite get in a full week of practice with enough throws to make the team comfortable starting him. That said, Marrone did allude to the fact that Minshew may back up Mike Glennon this week and could come in on an emergency basis if needed.

Jake Luton really struggled against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense last week, throwing four interceptions and completing just 43 percent of his passes. After a solid debut against the Houston Texans in Week Nine, Luton had an up-and-down day against the Green Bay Packers in Week 10, with probably more downs than up. I think it’s clear isn’t quite ready to be a longtime answer as a starter yet, and that should probably be expected for a sixth-round rookie (keep in mind that Minshew was also a sixth-round pick with much bigger expectations to play up to).

I’m not expecting Glennon to light it up by any means. He’ll probably play a game manager role while the Jaguars look to run the ball with James Robinson — but that could be easier said than done against Cleveland’s stout run defense. Glennon is a veteran who has been around, though, and the coaching staff feels that with Minshew still banged up, Glennon is the guy who gives the team the best chance to win. The fans, however, are fully embracing the tank with an eye toward selecting a franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. ”

NFL: NOV 22 Steelers at Jaguars
The Jaguars’ defense hasn’t been aggressive and is inexperienced.
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chris: “Jacksonville’s defense is ranked 30th in the league in yards allowed. What is the area where teams have picked them apart the most?”

Ryan: “Where to start? The defense is incredibly young and inexperienced. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash (who will miss Sunday’s game due to COVID-19 issues) rarely calls blitzes, rather rushing four and dropping seven most of the team, and the team has struggled to generate a pass rush (just nine sacks all season, which ranks last in the NFL). Due to this lack of pressure, opposing quarterbacks have been able to pick apart Jacksonville’s cover-three zone pretty easily, and the team ranks 29th against the pass, allowing 282.2 yards per game. Perhaps safeties coach Joe Danna, who will call the plays on Sunday in Wash’s absence, will be more aggressive, but that remains to be seen.

The rush defense is a little bit better, but not by much, allowing 129.1 yards per game (24th). The unit also can’t keep opposing offenses from scoring, giving up 29.8 points per game (29th). It’s really just all bad, as the Jaguars rank 31st overall in Defensive DVOA.”

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville’s tackles have had issues in protection this year.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Chris: “What is the strength and weakness of the Jaguars’ offensive line?”

Ryan: “I think the interior offensive line has been a little bit more consistent than the tackles. Left guard Andrew Norwell (who is expected to miss Sunday’s game), center Brandon Linder and right guard AJ Cann all have been solid for the most part and grade out at 69.2 or better overall by Pro Football Focus. The tackles, Cam Robinson (grade of 65.0) and Jawaan Taylor (grade of 58.0) have been a little bit more spotty.

I would say the strength of the offensive line is most definitely its run blocking — according to Football Outsiders, the Jaguars rank sixth in “Adjusted Line Yards” and 14th in “Power Success Rate.” Jacksonville ranks 18th overall in rush offense DVOA. The team also ranks ninth in expected rushing yards per carry.

The struggles seem to come more in pass protection — giving up 30 sacks this season and ranking 29th in adjusted sack rate.”

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Undrafted rookie RB James Robinson has been a gem for Jacksonville.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Chris: “James Robinson seems to be having a heck of a season for an undrafted rookie. Tell us a little about what he does well and how his season has gone.”

Ryan: “James Robinson was a gem of a find as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State. He is on pace to break the record for most scrimmage yards by an undrafted free agent (1,328) and currently sits at 1,011 (762 rushing yards and 249 receiving yards). He has proven to be able to run it between the tackles or on the outside, and has also shown a lot of prowess in the passing game as a weapon out of the backfield. He’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has scored seven total touchdowns this season (five rushing and two receiving).

He doesn’t shy away from contact, but he’s also shown his athleticism with hurdling over defenders — he can beat you with speed, power or finesse. He is a guy who keeps his head down, doesn’t say a whole lot and just works. Getting him going will be important against the Browns if the Jaguars want to pull an upset. Robinson looks to be a promising running back of the future.”

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars
Keelan Cole takes on a bigger receiving role this week.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could make a nice contribution for this week’s game.”

Ryan: “The player to watch on offense is wide receiver Keelan Cole. With D.J. Chark already being ruled out with an injury (ribs), Cole will likely operate as the team’s top wide receiver. If fellow wide receiver, and rookie, Laviska Shenault is able to return from a hamstring injury this week, he is also going to be a name to watch — the Jaguars want to put the ball in his hands.

Defensively, look out for rookie defensive linemen DaVon Hamilton and Doug Costin — they probably won’t show up on that stat sheet all that often, but the things they do will make an impact in the game.

As for a guy you probably have heard of, look out for linebacker Myles Jack to make an impact all over the field. Despite Jacksonville’s defense struggling overall, Jack has played at an All-Pro level so far.”

Thanks again to Ryan for taking the time to answer my questions.