Gardner Minshew Named Jaguars Starting Quarterback

John Shipley

Jacksonville will once again go through the highs and lows of Minshew Mania, as Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced during his weekly Monday media conference call that rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew II will be the team's starting quarterback at home against the Chargers in Week 14. Nick Foles, who less than two years ago was the Super Bowl MVP for the Eagles, will be the team's backup.

"I handled the situation this morning. Gardner is going to start for us Sunday vs. the Chargers," Marrone said. "Obviously it was a tough deal—Nick coming back from injury and us not being able to do a good enough job around him, really. So we feel with Gardner's mobility and elusiveness, that it can give us a better chance of winning with the way we are playing right now, because we are all not doing a good enough job."

Marrone benched Foles in the second half of Sunday's 28-11 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Foles committed three turnovers (one interception, two fumbles lost) in his first three possessions, putting Jacksonville in a 25-0 hole at halftime.

"It is really a lot of things. You have to get open, you have to protect," Marrone said Monday. "There are a lot of things that come into it, but right now obviously yesterday we didn't do a good enough job protecting and we got beat up front and it is not the way we want to be playing."

Foles signed a four-year, $88 million contract with over $50 million in guaranteed money as a free agent in March, but has only played 11 quarters for Jacksonville this season. Foles went down with a clavicle injury in Week 1 but returned as the starting quarterback in Week 11 after Minshew went 4-4 as the starting quarterback.

Jacksonville lost Foles' first two full games as starting quarterback by 20 and 22 points to AFC South opponents, and then things took a turn for the worst on Sunday. After Foles' third turnover, a fumble at the Buccaneers' 11-yard line, the TIAA Bank Field crowd started to rain down boos and chant for Minshew.

Marrone said Foles took the news hard because he is a competitor, but he still thinks highly of the veteran quarterback.

"It is brutal. It is tough. He is a competitor. He worked his ass off to come back and he is a great pro, so he is going to do everything he can to help us win," Marrone said. "But at the same time, he has to be ready in case there is an injury or whatever there may be. But he will be a pro about this.

"I think the world of him. I think he is a really good quarterback. I think he obviously can win in this league, but we have got to be able to help around him."

Marrone emphasized he is making the switch to Minshew because of his ability to navigate inside and outside of the pocket when pass protection breaks down like it often did on Sunday. 

"I think mobility is going to help us, obviously," Marrone said. "That is the reason why we made the move, I think the mobility and elusiveness is going to give us a better opportunity, a better chance to win."

In five games this season, Foles has completed 65.8% of his passes for 736 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. 

In 10 games this season, Minshew has completed 61.1% of his passes for 2,432 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Jacksonville is 4-8 through 12 games and is in last place of the AFC South by two games.