Ball security a looming focus for Gardner Minshew and Jaguars offense heading into Saints game
It was no secret which three plays hurt the Jacksonville Jaguars offense the most during the team's 34-27 loss against the Carolina Panthers in week 5. When your rookie quarterback fumbles three times, with two leading to Panthers touchdowns, it needs to be corrected quickly.
But the Jaguars offensive coaching staff and rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew were also upfront about the problem this week and refused to ignore the glaring issue.
“You stress it. It’s like anything. You stress it and you acknowledge it because I think if you stick your head in the sand and don’t acknowledge it, you allow possible problems to grow worse," offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said Thursday.
"There was no one more disappointed that he fumbled the ball three times than Gardner [Minshew II] was. I think that problem will be drastically improved this week.”
For Minshew, his fumbling issue has not been restricted to the Carolina game. He has fumbled seven times in four starts this season, losing four of those. And then going back to his college days, he fumbled eight times in 30 games.
On the positive side, Minshew's fumbles have been his only real flaw through the first five games of the season.
The rookie sixth-round pick has been largely mistake-free as a passer, throwing only one interception thus far on 165 attempts, and that occurred in week 1 when running back Leonard Fournette let a pass go off of his hands and into a defender's grasp.
“We’ve taken every measure in practice. Focusing on ball security. Always having somebody ripping at the ball. Trying to do whatever we can to get it right," Minshew said this week. "It’s something we’re not just going to think is just going to go away. We’re going to actively fight it and try to get better at it.”
DeFilippo thinks the staff has taken the appropriate measures to alleviate the fumble concerns moving forward. But he also noted the team does not want to go to extreme measures to change their dynamic quarterback.
"You acknowledge it, you drill it and [quarterback coach] Scott [Milanovich] was doing some good drills out there yesterday, some good pocket movement drills with him," DeFilippo said.
"It’s something that you worry about, but it’s not something that you … It’s not something that you overstress because you never want to make the quarterback a robot. I’ve said that a few times. You never want to make the quarterback a robot."
The Jaguars do not want Minshew to change the way he is playing, especially in regards to his pocket movement. Sometimes Minshew makes a great scrambling play and breaks ankle after ankle, and sometimes he runs right into a sack and loses the ball. They do not want to eliminate this play style, and instead want to refine it.
As for Minshew? He agrees with all of the above. He knows what his issues are, and he also knows he can't drastically change his game heading into Sunday's clash with the New Orleans Saints.
"I mean you can do those things, but in the Denver game, the touchdown, I was scrambling and I had good ball security. So, we just have to get to the point of where that’s – it’s not something I’m thinking about, it’s something I can just, that’s a habit I have," he said.