Close, but no dice: Jaguars fall to Browns 27-25

Cleveland’s backfield duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt prove to be too much as Jaguars fall to 1-10 in 2020

For the third time in four weeks, the Jaguars were in a one-possession ball game entering the fourth quarter.

For the fourth time in four weeks, they came away winless.

Despite a one-point deficit to start the final period, Jacksonville (1-10) ultimately fell to the Browns (8-3) 27-25 on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field. It is officially the team’s worst start to a season since 2014 (1-10), and the first time they have ever lost 10 straight games. With the loss, the Jaguars are also mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. 

“Obviously, it’s tough,” safety Jarrod Wilson, the Jaguars’ speaking captain for the game, said. “When you drop 10 in a row, I don’t think anybody in there is happy about that situation, but one thing about the locker room is it’s still tight, it’s still close. It’s still encouraging to come into work knowing that guys, even though we’re battling our [expletive] off, we are just trying to find a way to still get a W.”

Cleveland’s 1-2 punch of running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt proved to be the knock-out blow. Chubb rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown, while Hunt added 62 yards. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns. While Mayfield was hot-and-cold, his connection with wide receiver Jarvis Landry was as surefire as ever. Landry tallied eight catches for 143 yards and one score. 

In his first start for Jacksonville — and his first start in three years — journeyman Mike Glennon was very efficient. The veteran was 20 of 35 for 235 yards, throwing touchdowns to rookie Collin Johnson and tight end Tyler Eifert. Glennon had a chance to play the hero in the end, but failed to convert a game-tying, two-point conversion. 

Head coach Doug Marrone praised Glennon post-game, but would not commit to him as his starter against the Vikings next week. Original starter Gardner Minshew is expected to be available after missing the past four weeks with a thumb injury.

“I thought Mike [Glennon] did a nice job… I thought he made a lot of good throws. I thought he protected the football well,” Marrone said. “I think that he wishes he probably had a couple [throws] back, a couple sailed a little bit. But I thought [he did well] getting in us in and out of plays and making some big throws to guys that he might not have been working with.”

“I felt good, I didn’t feel rusty,” Glennon added. “Like I said, I felt like I was seeing it well, throwing it well, getting the ball out on time, felt in control and in command. I’m sure I’ll watch some tape and there’ll be some balls I wish I had back.”

Much will be said about Marrone’s decision to go for two earlier in the game, after a Cleveland offsides penalty moved the Jaguars closer to the end-zone. Jacksonville did not convert that two-point try either; it made the latter try necessary. Marrone said post-game that his “personal philosophy” is to always go-for-two when an extra point is on the one-yard line. He also said the play was originally designed as a running play, but the Browns stacked the box, forcing Jacksonville to change course. 

“We had a run-pass option for that play and then they stacked the box, and they were bringing pressure on the weak side, so it caused us to throw it and we didn’t execute it,” Marrone explained.

With D.J. Chark and Chris Conley both sidelined with injuries, Johnson enjoyed a career day. The fifth-round pick out of Texas had a team high four catches for 96 yards, including his 46-yard touchdown. Fellow rookie Laviska Shenault returned from an injury of his own and added three catches for 31 yards and one rushing play, while Keelan Cole had three catches for 44 yards. 

“This is when you really find out what kind of person you are, when everything is going terrible,” Johnson added. “I just feel like you have to continue to fight. That was the message in the locker room after the game: we are doing this for each other.”

And, of course: the Jaguars most consistent player — rookie running back James Robinson — was consistent as ever. The Illinois State product had his fourth career, 100+ rushing yard day, carrying the rock 22 times for 128 yards on the ground. He added 31 receiving yards, too. 

“He’s almost not human the way he, week in and week out, is able to perform and keep his body healthy,” fellow rookie Johnson said of Robinson. “It’s just impressive and motivating too, seeing an undrafted guy come in here and put up the numbers he’s doing and being such a good teammate. It’s motivating. He’s a great guy for our locker room and just a beast.”

Down multiple starters — and without their defensive coordinator, Todd Wash (COVID-19 protocol) and multiple assistants — the Jaguars’ defense was serviceable. Joe Schobert forced a fumble to begin the second half, which Andrew Wingard recovered; that would set up Glennon’s touchdown to Eifert. Dawuane Smoot added a sack and a TFL. Playing their first significant time of the season, rookie cornerbacks Luq Barcoo and Josiah Scott were certainly tested, but Barcoo did come away with a TFL, while Scott added four tackles. The always-steady Myles Jack led the Jaguars with nine tackles. 

Jaguars third-round rookie nose tackle Da’Von Hamilton was carted off with a knee injury at the two-minute warning; the Jaguars could ill-afford to lose him, having placed Josh Allen on Injured Reserve earlier this week. 

Jacksonville travels to Minneapolis to face the Vikings (5-6) next Sunday.