"That son of a [expletive], [Gardner] Minshew. That’s crazy. He’s a gunslinger."
Those were the words of Jacksonville Jaguars center and offensive captain Brandon Linder following the team's 29-15 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. He was describing rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew's eight-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark in the fourth quarter, but he may as well have been describing the rookie quarterback's entire dominant performance.
Minshew finished his day against the Jets with a 22-of-34 passing performance for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Amongst those passes were three completed passes of 20 yards or more and countless extended plays that picked up 3rd down conversions.
Unlike the past two to three weeks, Minshew stood firm in the pocket against pressure until he had to bail. And then in those instances, he found the perfect spaces in the pocket to maneuver and then deliver an accurate pass.
“Anytime we’re in the red-zone, and Gardner gets to scrambling, I try to squeeze through everybody and find him, and he has a good eye for that," Chark said after the game. "We almost had two in the endzone, but just try to find an open spot where I can get to so he can make the throw.”
For veteran wide receiver Chris Conley, who was on the receiving end of a 70-yard touchdown that came as a result of Minshew's ability to improvise, he thinks the rookie quarterback's big day was the culmination of building trust between the passer and his weapons.
After all, when a quarterback scrambles in and out of the pocket as much as Minshew does, it can be hard for a receiver to know exactly where to be when a play breaks down. But for Conley and the Jaguars' wideouts, they have built that relationship with Minshew to help both sides thrive.
“We are taking the time to work with each other and talk through some things and the looks that we get," Conley said after the game. "Today was a result of some of those conversations.”
If there is any one game to point to as evidence that perhaps the Jaguars are better off with Minshew at quarterback than Nick Foles, it was Sunday's win over the Jets. Foles does not have Minshew's mobility, which masks a sometimes porous offensive line as well as improving the chances of the receivers to make more big plays.
Foles clearly does other things better, but on a day like Sunday where it looked like Minshew was able to play backyard football and turn it into three touchdowns and a critical home win, it is clear how valuable that mobility is.
“He’s great, man. We love what he’s been able to bring to us," left tackle Cam Robinson said after the game. "Getting out of the pocket and able to do a lot of things. I mean he’s been great, just what we needed. When Nick [Foles] went down, he didn’t blink. He stepped in and he’s been great for us.”