Close losses show long rebuild might not be in cards for Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars lost their 11th consecutive game, 27-24, to the Minnesota Vikings in overtime Sunday, but one thing has become clear over the past several weeks: This shouldn't be a long rebuild.

Whichever GM is hired won't have the same task Dave Caldwell did when he was hired in 2012. The new front office doesn't need to blow it up and start all over. There are foundational pieces in place, and with a few additions -- with QB topping the list, obviously -- the Jaguars could be a solid team in 2021 or 2022.

The Jaguars have continued to fight and, with the exception of the loss to Pittsburgh in which rookie quarterback Jake Luton threw four interceptions, have been in games in the fourth quarter since the bye week. Even without four of their top five cornerbacks and their best pass-rusher (Josh Allen) the last two weeks the Jaguars trailed in the fourth quarter by single digits and had chances to either tie or take the lead.

Mike Glennon, like Gardner Minshew and Jake Luton, isn't the Jaguars' franchise quarterback. He was solid in his first start and had his moments against the Vikings. But his three turnovers -- especially an interception in overtime -- really hurt. His lone touchdown pass should have been intercepted, too, but the ball bounced off Vikings cornerback Kris Boyd's hands and Laviska Shenault Jr. caught it in the end zone.

Unless the Jaguars go on an unlikely win streak they are virtually guaranteed a top-three pick and that will take care of the quarterback issue. The 0-12 New York Jets have the top pick and the Jaguars are at No. 2, which would give them their pick of any quarterback not named Trevor Lawrence.

The Jaguars have 10 more picks after that, including another in the first round and two in the second. Hit on those players and then use some of the approximately $60 million in salary cap space (per Over The Cap if the league uses a $175 million cap in 2021) to add several other pieces, especially along the defensive line and at tight end, and the Jaguars should be one of the league's most improved teams in 2021.

Promising trend: Rookie receiver Collin Johnson is emerging as a playmaker for Glennon. Johnson caught four passes for 66 yards and the game-tying two-point conversion against the Vikings and has eight catches for 162 yards and one touchdown in the past two weeks -- both Glennon starts. That's more than half of his season totals: 15 catches, 231 yards, two TDs. Johnson said he and Glennon developed a lot of chemistry while working together on the scout team early in the season.

Promising trend II: The defense has played much better since the bye than it did in the first half of the season when it allowed opponents to score more than 30 points in six consecutive games. The unit held the Vikings to 115 yards in the first half -- 78 coming on one drive -- and scored the team's only points in the second half on Joe Schobert's 43-yard interception return for a touchdown. That was Schobert's sixth interception since the start of the 2019 season, the most of any linebacker over that span, per ESPN Stats & Information. Indianapolis' Darius Leonard is next with five.

Bold prediction for next week: Despite the fact Glennon struggled, coach Doug Marrone sticks with him as the starter next week. Glennon is a better fit for what offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wants to do and one of the areas in which he's far and away ahead of Minshew and Luton is working the middle of the field. Jaguars tight ends combined for 10 catches for 86 yards against the Vikings, the most catches by tight ends in a game this season.