Jaguars and Gardner Minshew Prepared For Round 2 of Minshew Mania
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It had been quite some time since Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II held a press conference at TIAA Bank Field as the team's starting quarterback.
After all, he hasn't been the team's starter since a Week 9 loss to the Houston Texans. After starting from Weeks 2 through 9, Minshew totaled a 4-4 record as a starter and his play spread the infamous 'Minshew Mania' across the league thanks to his colorful personality and energetic style of play.
Minshew, the team's sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, was sent to the bench after Week 9 when veteran quarterback Nick Foles returned from a clavicle injury he sustained in Week 1. This set up didn't last long, however, and Minshew returned to the field in halftime of Week 13 after Foles struggled mightily. Head coach Doug Marrone made the move official Monday when he named Minshew the starting quarterback moving forward.
When Marrone first moved Minshew back into his original backup role though, he didn't want to stop his young passer's development. Instead, he gave him extra live reps in practice despite being the backup quarterback, something rarely done in the NFL. As Marrone would point out during his Wednesday press conference at TIAA Bank Field, it would be taking a step backward if the reps just disappeared once Minshew became the No. 2 quarterback.
"So, when we made the switch, we made sure that Gardner was going to take his reps on the scout team, but that’s dictated by what the other team does. But we wanted to do something at the end of practices, and on Thursday and Friday, we’d put stuff in there at the end of practice that we felt that he needed to get better on," Marrone said. "So, from that standpoint, yes, we did see that [development].”
Minshew said Wednesday that the chance to learn first as a starter and then learn behind Foles was especially beneficial for his development, along with Marrone's increased reps for him.
"You don't get a lot of live reps at your own plays when you are the No. 2, so it was really cool of them to be able to do that for me and continue to help me get better," Minshew said.
"A lot of times when you are playing, you have a million different things that you are focusing in on. ... and you lose some of the smaller stuff sometimes. But when you are out of that role you can kind of step back and see the little details. It was a really good experience for me."
Minshew's weapons on offense, such as wide receiver D.J. Chark, know Minshew is a different style of player, but their jobs don't change. As Chark said Wednesday, he has to get open and make the catch regardless of who the quarterback is. But he did note Minshew brings "energy" to the field, and defensive lineman and captain Calais Campbell said the same.
"Minshew definitely is very exciting. He is very elusive. He is a guy who is fun to watch. The fans love him, and really you can't help but to love the guy," Campbell said Wednesday. "He is a genuine guy who loves the game of football. A country boy, you know, eager for opportunity who loves the game. So it is always fun watching him out there."
Campbell has always been a focal supporter of Foles too and stood by this on Wednesday. While this Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Chargers will be all about Minshew Magic, Campbell thinks Foles could get his shot again eventually. Until then, though, it is the Minshew show.
"Obviously I have a lot of admiration for Nick Foles and I think very, very highly of him, so I know that it is very tough on him," Campbell said.
"I know he will still get an opportunity. We are going to see how all of this stuff plays out. But I think it is a great opportunity for a young guy, and he is going to take advantage of it and hopefully, we can rattle off a few wins and finish this year strong. I am excited to see what he does."
Minshew said Wednesday he was "excited" when he got the news from Marrone that he would be the starting quarterback, but he still "hurt" for Foles, who he has said on several occasions that he has grown close with. While Minshew Mania marches on, Minshew knows his older teammate will still be rooting for him.
"I know every drive he was out there I was praying and hoping he'd go score so all that booing and crap would stop," Minshew said. "And I know he is doing the same for me; he wants nothing but the best for me."
Jacksonville may be out of the playoff race, but round two of Minshew Mania is still full steam ahead. Minshew doesn't need any extra incentive to put his best foot forward and try to perform at a high level, anyways.
"I don't think there is any time or any point in a game when you are out there and you are thinking, 'Oh, we don't have anything to play for.' I am playing to beat the crap out of the guy across from me," Minshew said. "And that doesn't matter whether in practice or whether in games. I don't need some kind of extra incentive to out and compete."