There are a number of changes coming to the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense in 2020. Not only will Gardner Minshew II be stepping into the starting role on a full-time basis for the first time, but the team will be transitioning to its third offensive scheme in three years, this time under first-year coordinator Jay Gruden.
Due to those changes, it may be an understatement to state the Jaguars have a number of challenges facing them in an entirely virtual offseason. To face those challenges, the Jaguars will be entrusting the mental acumen of Minshew to help guide them through uncertain waters.
Luckily for the Jaguars, they have first-hand experience at seeing how Minshew retains and learns new schemes and information. While the new learning process has had to come through a virtual setting rather than on the field, the Jaguars at least know their starting quarterback should be able to pick up the mental side of transition rather quickly.
"I think that what worked for Gardner is that early on when we first had him and we saw that there was this kind of advanced retention that he had with the offenses, you know it was intriguing and we wound up asking him, ‘Hey, how are you able to do this?’" head coach Doug Marrone said in a video conference on Friday.
"He has some techniques that he uses and goes through as far as you know listening to a play, and then shutting it off right in the play up with all the progressions. Then also you know him being able to call out the plays, verbally, him calling the plays so he works extremely hard and does a lot of different things for him to retain information."
Of course, just because Minshew is picking up new aspects of the offense and retaining the right information doesn't mean the rest of the offense will have the same luck. Each player is different on and off the field, and each player takes in new information dramatically differently.
Marrone is cognizant of this fact though and knows it is his job to ensure his teaching style is able to reach every single player, not just the starting quarterback.
"I think the most important thing and what we would do football-wise, and we have had these conversations with you know coaches and players, is that everyone learns differently," Marrone said. I learn differently than [Director of Public Relations] Tad [Dickman]. We all learn differently and as coaches to get it across and get their attention you’ve got to find that way."
As Marrone would note, though, there are always some players who can information directly from a classroom to the football field and implement it right away. These players aren't exactly common, however, so it is an advantage whenever a team has such a player.
"Some guys like I said before, very few can take it from the classroom to the field, that’s why there is a lot of anxiety during this time."Really, for me personally when I was an assistant coach, I probably had less than 1 percent of those players that could do that," Marrone said. "The rest of them relied on the film work, the walkthrough, the making an error and then correcting it to get better.
"So fortunate for us, Gardner is a guy that can get out there and really learn and try to do what you want when he gets on the field. So, you know those are the different things that he does that I think gives him the ability to understand what we want.”
Of course, it isn't exactly a negative for a team's quarterback to be ahead of the rest of the locker room in terms of knowledge of the scheme. In fact, Marrone said, it is the opposite. Quarterbacks are meant to be the conductors of the offense and know the ins and the outs of the scheme, thus they must be at the highest level possible when it comes to the mental side of the ball.
"I think one of the keys to being successful in this league is that what you want your quarterback to be ahead of everybody else on offense," Marrone said. Meaning that the other guys on offense are trying to catch up to that quarterback, to where he is. It creates competition. It creates the ability to know what you are doing to be on the field with that quarterback.'