Stakes Raised For Minshew Vs. Fitzpatrick Battle on Thursday Night Football

John Shipley

There will be quite a few things at stake when the Jacksonville Jaguars face off against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. The primetime home game gives Jacksonville a chance to get to 2-1 and gain respect on a national stage.

But the game will also be about bragging rights. The two biggest names on each team are the unique and exciting quarterbacks leading the offensive charges, with the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick facing off against the ascending Gardner Minshew II.

We all know about the amusing brewing beard vs. mustache rivalry between the two, but there is more to play for even beyond that, with branding bragging rights also at stake. The winning quarterback will evidently be featured on limited-edition Pepsi merchandise at some point this season.

This would just be the next in what has been a long line of endorsement deals for Minshew. The charismatic passer previously entered a partnership with Bud Light to endorse drafting him in fantasy football this season, and the second-year quarterback said earlier this year how he has turned down more marketing deals than he has so far accepted.

“Actually, I’ve probably turned down a lot more than I’ve taken, as far as that stuff goes," Minshew said on Aug 18.

"Obviously, I want to make sure that it’s not too time restrictive. I want to make sure that obviously first thing comes first, and I don’t want anything that’s going to interrupt or even slightly get in the way, even if it’s taking away just rest time. I make sure that it fits in my schedule, it fits in something that I want to do, something typically that’s kind of fun and enjoyable.”

Minshew has gotten off to a fast start this season, completing 75.4% of his passes for 512 yards (7.0 yards per attempt) and six touchdowns with two interceptions. He is tied for second in the league in passing touchdowns and his 115.7 passer rating is seventh-best among qualifying passers.

Minshew has also been among the best red zone and third-down quarterbacks this season, including some key plays in each area in Week 2's narrow loss to the Tennessee Titans. This included an impressive touchdown to Chris Thompson that left an impression on his offensive coordinator.

"We had a hot route, a free unblocked player that Gardner [Minshew II] recognized. He lofted up a perfect pass to Chris Thompson, who [to] any –that ball could’ve been thrown not many places. It was a perfectly thrown ball, Chris went up and got it, made a big play," Jay Gruden said Tuesday.

"So, that’s part of the red zone: tight-window throws, guys making plays, that’s a major part of it and right now we’re doing that. Like I said, we’re going to see different coverages, more drop-eights, more man-to-man type, man-to-man different leverages and how we can attack those types of defenses will be how good we do. But obviously, the red zone start has been very good. But [we’re] only two games in.”

The Jaguars host the Dolphins tonight at 8:20 p.m. at TIAA Bank Field.

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