Minshew Mania has been sidelined.
Jacksonville Jaguars second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II hasn't played since a Week 7 road loss against the Los Angeles Chargers, but Week 13 presents circumstances the signal-caller has previously not faced with the Jaguars.
Head coach Doug Marrone announced Wednesday that eighth-year veteran Mike Glennon would start at quarterback in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings for the 1-10 Jaguars. Glennon started the previous week due to Jake Luton being benched, while Luton started the previous three games due to a right thumb injury Minshew sustained early in the season.
But now, the injury card for Minshew is no longer on the table. Marrone said Wednesday that trainers have labeled Minshew as "full," meaning he won't be limited in practice.
After weeks of saying the Jaguars wanted to wait until Minshew was both fully healthy and prepared before he played again, it appears moving forward that Minshew has now been benched due to reasons closer to performance than injury.
What does it mean for the Jaguars in the long term that Glennon will be starting over a healthy Minshew in Week 13? We try to break it all down here.
Jacksonville has already confirmed what position it will pick at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft
If any team doesn't have a quarterback, finding one becomes priority No. 1 -- or at least, it should. We have known since Minshew's struggles earlier in the season that the Jaguars would likely have to pick a quarterback with their top selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. But by Marrone naming Glennon the starter over a healthy Minshew, the Jaguars have all but confirmed the move; even without the future general manager in the building.
You can't start Glennon over Minshew willingly and then attempt to ever sell Minshew as "the guy" again. It is essentially the same thing with Foles and Minshew in Week 13 last season -- once they benched Foles for play and not injury, they could never reverse course. His tenure was done, at least as starter. It is similar here, except the Jaguars' replacement for the future isn't on the roster like he was last year. Glennon won't start games for the Jaguars in 2021, at least not on purpose. With this move, the Jaguars have at long last said loud and clear what their intentions are moving forward, and they including finding a franchise quarterback.
Minshew still deserved the chance he got
Gardner Minshew could never appear in another game for the Jaguars and he would still be one of the best day three picks in team history. He has accomplished a lot over the last nearly two seasons, including leading all rookie quarterbacks in wins last year as he went 6-6 and earned a right to the job. And that is what is key here: Minshew earned it. He didn't get lumped in as the starter to a bad team simply by default because he was on the roster (see Chad Henne in 2013). He played well enough as a rookie to deserve a chance to see what he had with a more expanded sample size.
It clearly didn't work out, with today's move making that even more obvious than it has been. Minshew's play is more or less the same as it was last season, but the Jaguars regressed around him due to their teambuilding strategy, and he isn't the caliber of quarterback who can overcome this type of roster. That isn't a knock on him, but it is an honest assessment and likely the same one the Jaguars came to some time ago. But even with the 2020 failures, it should be remembered that Minshew was still the best option to start the year.
Minshew's injury turned this season upside down
Marrone said Wednesday the move to start Glennon was made because the veteran quarterback gave the team the best chance to win. We will touch on that topic later, but it has to beg the question of why Glennon is suddenly the best option after the Jaguars turned to two quarterbacks before him to start games this year. As a result, it would be reasonable to wonder just how much Minshew's murky injury timeline and concealment of said injury has impacted this current decision. But no matter what that answer is, the simple fact is that Minshew was the reason for the Jaguars to have hope entering the season, but that all got tarnished with his injury and the season was turned upside down.
Did Minshew lose the confidence or trust of the coaching staff by not being more forthright with his injury? We may never know, but it probably didn't help his case that he knowingly played while not 100%. It is admirable to attempt to grit out an injury, but if it impacts the quality of play it is negatively impacting the team. This is tenfold at the quarterback position. Minshew very well could see the field again, but if he had just told the Jaguars he was injured when he first noticed the injury, would he have at least had a better chance to get back to being a starter when healthy? It is a fair question to ask. Nevertheless, this entire strange situation has become the biggest shift in Jacksonville's 2020 season, even if the results each Sunday are still the same.
Could a potential trade theory explain why Minshew is sitting?
One potential theory on why the Jaguars may be sitting Minshew this week: perhaps the Jaguars know that Minshew's time as the starting quarterback is over and it is more worthwhile to keep his stock from decreasing anymore than it has, simply for trade purposes. Had Foles started the rest of the year for the Jaguars last year and played as poorly as he was during his first stint as a starter, there is likely no way the Jaguars could have gotten a fourth-round pick from the Bears.
Could the Jaguars have this in mind with Minshew? It is tough to really argue that considering the next general manager and head coach are almost assuredly not inside the building. But the Jaguars as an organization could still see the value in potentially flipping Minshew for an early day 3 pick in the upcoming offseason. He is a serviceable quarterback who has proven he can win games with the right team around him, so there is no real reason to think he won't have a market if that is how the Jaguars want to play things out. And by playing him in these last five games, there is always a chance the market could dwindle as a result.
Marrone may be right that Glennon gives them the best chance to win, which is the major issue to begin with
Maybe it is worth it to consider if Marrone and his staff are actually right about Glennon giving them the best chance to win. He played a solid ball game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and his turnover-less game was just the third game this year in which a Jaguars quarterback hasn't turned over a ball. Considering the rut Minshew was in from Weeks 3-7, could there be credence to the argument that Glennon actually is their best quarterback?
There absolutely could be. But the fact that Glennon is even potentially the best quarterback on the roster says ... a lot. If you want to pinpoint a main reason the Jaguars are having one of the worst seasons in franchise history, that is a pretty dang good roster flaw to look to.