JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback Jake Luton got very positive reviews from his teammates and the coaching staff after his first start in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 27-25 loss to Houston last Sunday.
He earned high marks for his poise, especially since he hadn’t played in a game in almost a year and had spent the first eight weeks of the season running the scout team. Nobody was quite sure how he would handle himself facing a live rush for the first time.
But now comes the next test of his composure: Playing on the road in one of the most historic places in NFL history and trying to out-duel one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Aaron Rodgers.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Luton said. “He’s a guy I have a lot of respect for, was a big fan of growing up and a huge fan of his game. A lot of things that he does, no one else really can do. He’s a wizard with the football in a lot of ways. Like I said, [I have] a lot of respect for him.
“It’ll be really exciting to get out there and get to play ball against him.”
Luton threw for 304 yards and one touchdown with one interception and ran for another touchdown against the Texans. He led the Jaguars on a two-minute drive that ended with his 13-yard TD run. The Jaguars could have tied the game with less than two minutes to play, but misfired on a two-point conversion pass.
Two other impressive stats: Zero delay-of-game penalties and zero wasted timeouts. The Jaguars had no issues with the mechanics of calling a play, getting it relayed in to Luton, him relaying it in the huddle, and getting the snap off in the allotted time. Luton hadn’t done that since his final college game with Oregon State on Nov. 23, 2019.
And then giving the Jaguars a chance to force overtime? Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden called it incredible.
“For his first game ever with limited reps, I thought he did an outstanding job, really,” Gruden said. "If you think about how much you talk about being a quarterback and how repetition is king and for him not to get any since training camp -- and even in training camp he got few or far between -- for him to step in his first NFL game and stand in there and take some shots and make some throws, I thought it was really incredible. Not many guys in their first game with that limited exposure can step into the fire like that and perform like he did.
“Obviously, there’s some throws I’m sure he wishes he had back and some opportunities that were missed, but overall from the way he was on the sidelines, the poise, the control that he had at the line of scrimmage, using the play clock, changing protections from time to time, I thought was great.”
Can he do all that on the road at Lambeau Field? Green Bay isn’t allowing fans, so Luton and the Jaguars are catching a break there. But it’s still an intimidating place to place because of its history and the fact that the Packers are 6-2 and rank third in the NFL in scoring (31.6 points per game).
Luton, however, wishes there were going to be fans so he could get the full Lambeau experience. He grew up watching Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and the Lambeau Leap and it just won’t be as electric of an atmosphere as it could be.
“It’s somewhere I’ve dreamed of playing,” Luton said. “Lambeau Field is pretty historic, pretty awesome. It’d be real cool if it was rocking, a lot of people cheering against you. So, it’ll be a little different with it being empty, but I’m sure it’ll still be awesome.
“It’ll be a cool moment to step out on the field and take it all in.”
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone will be watching to see if the sixth-round rookie has the same demeanor this week as he did in his first start. He wants to see the same kind of poise he saw from Luton in the days after he told him he’d be starting against the Texans.
“I think everything that we said after the game, I pretty much reiterate it and I think I felt the same way,” Marrone said. “Then I think it goes back to, ‘Hey listen, what are the next steps?’ Talking about some footwork stuff, some scrambling drill, accuracy when he’s scrambling, and then just see, just keep bringing him along and hopefully he’ll get better the more he plays.
“I mean, you almost look at it as almost that’s really like preseason Game 1 as far as getting out there and going to play. He did some good things and ... you don’t get too high, you don’t get too low. He doesn’t, so he prepares the same way every time, works hard, and we’ll just see how he goes out there and preforms.”