Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone knows he can't prevent the inevitable. He knows that in two weeks, he is going to have to make perhaps the toughest decision of his tenure as the Jaguars coach.
When Week 11 rolls around and big-money free agent signing Nick Foles comes off of the injured/reserve list, Marrone will have to decide whether to stick with rookie phenom Gardner Minshew, who has stepped in and produced at a rate that rookie passers have rarely ever come close to, or go back to Foles, the former Super Bowl MVP who was signed to be the team's franchise quarterback?
Marrone knows it will be a tough call, and a call that he alone has to make. But he is also doing his best to not have to think about it. Not yet, at least.
"My strength is I can focus on something, but my weakness might be down the road, if you don’t see this thing coming. To answer your question, I really haven’t thought about it," Marrone said after Sunday's 29-15 victory over the Jets.
"The reason why is because I don’t have to, and I don’t want to. I’ll deal with it when it happens. And that’s the truth."
For Marrone, his focus is strictly on preparing his team for a trip to London in Week 9 against a rolling Houston Texans team. If you ask him, it is simply a waste of time to even ponder what to do at quarterback when that decision is two weeks down the road while the Texans are only six days down the same road.
Marrone made his point clear in his post-game press conference Sunday when he reflected on how New York Post columnist Mark Cannizzaro asked him in the hallway what he was going to do at quarterback. Marrone said his answer to Cannizzaro was the same one he has been giving to local media in recent weeks and one that is a reflection of where his mindset is at.
"I told Mark, I got this question in a press conference and I know that people who don’t know me, it’s hard for them to believe, but why would I go through scenarios in my mind and waste my time with scenarios when I have to get ready for another game," Marrone said.
"I said, ‘If we didn’t have a bye after the Texans game, I think somewhere along the line next week, I would start going through that in my mind.’ Does that make sense to everyone? Because I’m going to have to make a decision, but since we have the bye, there are so many things that can happen between now and then, whether injuries come into play with either quarterback or whatever may happen, so for me, I’m not going to waste my time."
This line of thinking makes sense, even if it is a little hard to believe that Marrone hasn't thought about the inevitably of the decision at all. Right now, he has a 4-4 football team that is still in the thick of a tight divisional race.
The fact that it is now even a question of who should start at quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11 when Foles returns from the clavicle injury he sustained in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs is a testament to Minshew's play over the first half of the season.
Nobody thought when Foles went down that it would become a question of if, and should, he get his starting position back. Minshew has forced that question into existence with his play. Sure, there have been rookie bumps along the way, but the sixth-round pick has also elevated the Jaguars' offense more times than not.
The safe money is that Marrone will go back to Foles. He needs to win games to secure his job, and it makes sense that he would have more faith in a veteran quarterback who has seen a lot than in a rookie quarterback who is still growing.
While Minshew has impressed (61.9% completion, 1,976 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions), there have also been times where he has truly looked like a sixth-round rookie, such as in Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints.
But as Marrone noted on Sunday after Minshew had a three-touchdown performance against the Jets, the young signal-caller has also played like a heady veteran at times.
"Sometimes I look and you’re like, ‘That’s a veteran move. That’s a veteran player.’ You are able to see that, and you go," Marrone said Sunday.
"He does not play like he was brought into this league, a sixth-round draft pick or something like that. He doesn’t play like that.”
Marrone will have to make a tough call soon. It will be one that will undoubtedly be the main talking point of the second half of Jacksonville's season, and also one that will have serious short- and long-term ramifications.
For the Jaguars coach, he has to balance that with all of his other duties. Soon enough, though, he will have to answer the question. But as he said, he will "deal with it when it happens."