With the Rooney UPMC Sports Park closed on Monday for a deep cleaning, there wasn’t much news emanating from the Pittsburgh Steelers today. But down in Jacksonville, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone met with the media to talk about the improvement he’s seen from his team in recent weeks.
Never mind that the Jaguars are 1-8 and have lost eight consecutive contests. “There are a couple of things that are starting to increase our ability to win games,” said Marrone on Monday afternoon.
“There are lot of guys who are starting to step up at times–getting a little better consistency, getting the game into the fourth quarter,” he added. “There are still plays during the course of the game where we need to do a better job that obviously will help us at the end, and we obviously we want to be able to finish better than we have the last two games.”
To be sure, Jacksonville has come close to tasting victory in its last two outings, with its most recent loss coming to the Green Bay Packers (7-2) by a score of 24-20. But if the Jaguars are going to get over the hump against their next opponent—the Pittsburgh Steelers—they will have to do it without the services of starting quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who missed the team’s last two games with a right thumb injury.
Jaguars Rookie Quarterback Jake Luton
“He won’t be ready, so Jake will be playing,” offered Marrone on Monday, referring to rookie quarterback Jake Luton.
Luton—a 2020 sixth-round pick out of Oregon State (189th overall)—made his NFL debut against the Houston Texans on November 8th and completed 26 of 38 passes for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Then he made his second start against the Packers on Sunday, completing 18 of 35 passes for 169 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“I thought he made a couple of really nice throws,” said Marrone about Luton. “He’s a young guy and he’s coming along. I wouldn’t say it [his performance] dropped down [against the Packers]. With the [windy] conditions the way they were, I’m happy with the way he’s progressing. He’s doing everything he can. I can’t really ask for more.”
But Marrone may need to get more from Luton (6-foot-6 and 224 pounds) if the Jags hope to upset the Steelers, who will be trying to extend a franchise-best start to 10-0.
In college Luton started 23 games for the Beavers, earning All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention during his redshirt senior year when he completed 222 of 358 passes, with 28 touchdowns against only three interceptions.
Steelers a Heavy Favorite vs. Jaguars
As of Monday, the Steelers are a ten-point favorite over the Jaguars, per BetMGM Sportsbook. Of course, the Jags were a 14-point underdog against the Packers last weekend and covered easily, losing by four points.
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