Did Minshew Mania Officially End in London?

John Shipley

After eight starts and some spectacular highs, along with quite a few bumpy lows, Gardner Minshew may have played his final snap as a starter in 2019. Which leads to the question: What’s next?

As the dust cleared following an embarrassing 26-3 loss to the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium in London, the takes finally began to fly. Does Minshew, who went 4-4 as a starter but turned the ball over four times in the fourth quarter during a pivotal AFC South game, deserve to continue to play over veteran Nick Foles?

It is a nuanced question that has a number of layers to it. But my personal opinion on if Minshew should start doesn’t mean much. What instead matters is talking about what will likely happen and what head coach Doug Marrone’s mindset may be as his team enters their Week 10 bye with a 4-5 record.

It appears that with the Jaguars only being able to afford one or maybe two losses if they want to sneak into the postseason, the smart money is to bet on Foles coming back. Foles hasn’t played since he suffered a clavicle injury on his 11th play as a Jaguar, but he was given a four-year, $88 million contract this offseason to be their guy at quarterback.

Consider this: Minshew has exceeded every single expectation as a starter considering he is a sixth-round rookie who was never able to see the field, but who is Marrone likely to trust with his job on the line? It is hard to feel like the answer is a rookie coming off of a four-turnover game.

“Well, I haven't spoken to either quarterback yet, and I hate talking through the media about my plans, but the plans were -- again, the disappointment of the team, not performing well, will be on my mind now for the next 48 hours,” Marrone said after Sunday’s game.

“I think after those 48 hours are over, I'm going to step away a little bit, take a break because I don't have to make a decision and have time. That's what I'm going to talk to the quarterbacks about, and then I'll tell them probably right before we come back on Sunday, we'll be able to discuss where we're going to go. That's pretty much my plan.”

Foles has never been a consistent starter in the NFL but for better or worse, the Jaguars have invested in him. Not only in money, but in terms of building their offensive playbook around his skillset. He is a flawed player, but he is one the Jaguars seemed to buy into this offseason.

Minshew draws the ire of many when he has bad games because of how good he has looked at other points, but his bad games likely leave a strong impression on Marrone. Marrone may be coaching for his job, so the question is where is his patience at? Does he think he can survive the season as Minshew goes through the typical rookie quarterback ups and downs?

Nobody knows what Foles will look like as a passer when he comes off of the team’s reserve/injured list, which he is eligible to do so in Week 11 vs. the Indianapolis Colts. But it is likely that Foles will get the job back regardless because of the investment in him and the years he has spent in the league, despite this being a bit of a sunk cost fallacy.

For the Jaguars to have a chance at the playoffs, they will have to be, at worst, 5-2 over their final seven weeks. Does Foles give them the best chance of doing so? It is unclear now, but it appears he will at least get his shot.

Foles will assuredly do some things better than Minshew, such as consistent accuracy and ability to read the field, but he has never been the type of smooth, game managing quarterback that many think he is. But when Minshew has a game like he did on Sunday, can you even go back to him over Foles?

“Yeah, you know, I've got a lot of questions, and I'm not naïve… And it's not one game, it'll be a body of work,” Marrone said Sunday.

While Marrone may not make his decision based on Sunday’s game, it is now fair to finally ask the question of Minshew Mania running out. For Marrone, he will have to answer the question sooner than later. 

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