The Packers seem to be renewing acquaintances with quite a few teams they haven’t seen for a while this year. They’ve already touched base with the Falcons, Buccaneers, and Texans, all relatively uncommon opponents. Next on their list are the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom the Packers last saw in Week 1 of the 2016 season.
To get up to speed on the Jaguars, we touched base with Ryan O’Bleness of Big Cat Country. Today, he’ll give us a look at Jacksonville’s offense. He’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the defense.
Acme Packing Company: Jake Luton is poised to start at quarterback for the Jaguars, but he’s hardly a household name. What should we know about the rookie?
Ryan O’Bleness: Jake Luton is a sixth-round pick (just like Gardner Minshew was last year) out of Oregon State, and played at Idaho prior to that. He’s a big quarterback at 6-feet-6-inches tall and about 225 pounds. With Minshew suffering a hand injury and unable to play, Luton got thrown right into the fire against the Houston Texans, getting the starting nod over veteran Mike Glennon — Luton had been inactive for every game prior to that. He has a strong arm, in fact his second throw of the game against Houston went for a 73-yard touchdown to D.J. Chark:
He fared pretty well in his debut, outside of an interception and fumble (that was recovered by the Jaguars) and a couple of other minor things here and there. All things considered, it probably went better than most Jaguars fans expected, as he completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 304 yards and one touchdown, with the one pick. But obviously, the sample size is small. In college, he was known for having a big arm and protecting the football (just three interceptions his senior year compared to 28 touchdown passes). Now that there is at least some professional film on him, he may not catch the Packers by surprise, which was possible against the Texans. But, as you reminded me, Jon, the Packers have been susceptible on defense to giving up career days to certain players, so who knows. There is definitely potential with Luton, but at the end of the day, he’s still an unpolished sixth-round rookie.
He also showed some moxie on a late-game touchdown run, complete with a stiff arm and spin move, that nearly tied the game for the Jaguars, but the two-point conversion was missed and the Jaguars lost yet again
APC: It was a moderate surprise (at the very least) when Leonard Fournette found himself on the outs in Jacksonville, but James Robinson has been solid as the feature back for the Jaguars. What’s been your impression?
RO: Yes, at the time, that decision seemed like a strange one for the Jaguars. Fournette didn’t have the best start to his career with the Jaguars, and his personality didn’t seem to mesh well with the front office or coaches, but surely he was going to be one of the best offensive weapons on this extremely young team for one more season, right? Well, it didn’t take long for James Robinson to prove why that decision was made. He was a gem of a find by Jacksonville, as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State. Right away, Robinson made his presence felt with 62 rushing yards and 28 receiving yards in an opening week win (and Jacksonville’s only win thus far) against the Indianapolis Colts.
Since then, Robinson has gone on to set the single season record for yards from scrimmage by an undrafted free agent (805 yards), formerly held by Phillip Lindsay of the Denver Broncos. Robinson averages 4.4 yards per carry, and has also scored seven total touchdowns already (Fournette only had three in all of 2019). He can run between the tackles, beat you with speed to the edge, catch the ball out of the backfield, hurdle you or run you over. He is a quiet guy that lets his play do the talking. I have been very impressed with Robinson, and he looks like the bell cow back of the future for the Jags.
APC: Between D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault, the Jaguars have a pair of interesting young pass catchers. How dangerous can they be?
RO: Chark had a breakout year in 2019, but has been inconsistent so far in 2020, and has dealt with some injuries. He finally broke free last week against the Texans, catching seven passes for 146 yards and the aforementioned 73-yard touchdown, proving that he is still a key weapon in the passing game. Chark possesses the coveted combination of size and speed that makes him hard to defend, and somebody who defenses have to pay attention to. When Chark is healthy, he is one of the best young receivers in the game. He just has to put together strong performances on a more consistent basis, but he is definitely somebody who will look to make an impact on Sunday.
Similar to Robinson, Shenault is another rookie the Jaguars have relied on. He left the game last week with a hamstring injury, but is practicing this week. Shenault is a dynamic player who the Jaguars will line up all over the field — split out wide, in the slot, as a running back and even as a wildcat quarterback. The Jaguars want to get the ball in his hands however they can because he is tough to bring down and can make things happen after the catch. If he is healthy, you’ll likely hear his name called a lot this weekend.
Stay tuned for part 2 coming tomorrow!