The Jacksonville Jaguars, given new life as a franchise by the New York Jets, might start Mike Glennon this weekend against the Bears.
Coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday Glennon – who you might remember from such Bears moments as “this is my year” and “earning $18.5 million for four starts” – will compete with Gardner Minshew to start on Sunday. This is just an iconic level of tanking: An in-season, Week 16 quarterback “competition” between Minshew and, I cannot stress this enough, Mike Glennon. If the Jaguars lose their next two games, they’ll get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
(Marrone won’t even be in Jacksonville to reap the benefit – Trevor Lawrence – of going 1-15, but surely owner Shad Khan will thank him on his way out.)
But no matter if it’s Minshew or Glennon on Sunday, the Bears aren’t taking the 1-13 Jaguars lightly.
“You can’t look at records,” defensive lineman Bilal Nichols said. “I feel that when you get caught up in a record, that’s when you get lackadaisical and you don’t go out there and play the best ball that you can play. One thing we know about them, they’re a tough, gritty team. A lot of the games that they have lost this year have been close games. It’s not like this team is just constantly getting blown out.”
Nichols certainly did his research and/or absorbed the message Matt Nagy has been preaching this week. The Jaguars, yes, are lined up to earn the No. 1 overall pick. But in the last month and a half, they only lost by two to the Cleveland Browns, three (in overtime) to the Minnesota Vikings and four to the Green Bay Packers.
The Jaguars lost by 21 to the Titans and 26 to the Ravens in their last two games, of course, but it’s probably better for the Bears to focus on Jacksonville’s competitive games rather than their Tank-For-Trevor-oriented contests.
“If anybody watched that Rams-Jets game (last week) you can see what it means to play in the NFL,” Nagy said the morning before the now-3-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals upset the 11-3 Pittsburgh Steelers.
So it’s also probably a good thing for the Bears that the Rams and Steelers just suffered embarrassing losses to teams that’ll pick in the top three in next year’s draft. The Bears, of course, are not necessarily going to the playoffs – unlike the Steelers and, almost certainly, the Rams.
To make Week 17’s game against the Green Bay Packers matter, the heavily-favored Bears have to win in Jacksonville on Sunday. And that means not looking ahead to the Packers just because the city of Jacksonville is readying itself for a generational QB prospect.
It was only four years ago that a Jaguars team, on an extended losing streak, blew out an in-the-hunt Tennessee Titans team. Allen Robinson caught nine passes for 146 yards in Jacksonville’s 38-17 win, which eliminated the then-eight-win Titans from the 2016 playoffs.
If the Bears aren’t careful and focused, they could suffer the same fate this weekend.
“We know that anybody can beat anybody on any Sunday,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said. “So my goal for this week again is just to have a great week of practice, improve on offense, defense and special teams across the board and make sure we’re getting better as a whole team. And then go out there and put it all on the line on Sunday because at this point we need every win anyway.
“So it doesn’t matter who we’re playing or what the other team’s record is. We have to show up, play our game, and play really well and take care of business.”