Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew has an abundance of fans in Florida, and he evidently has at least one fan in Ohio with Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
"Minshew has done a great job creating extended plays. He gives them a chance at the end of the game when they are down," Taylor said in a conference call Thursday. "He has shown that competitive spirit; he’s a winner. He was a winner at Washington State, and that stuff shows up."
The 36-year old head coach has been around young quarterbacks before after spending 2017-2018 on the Los Angeles Rams offensive coaching staff, including a stint as the team's quarterback coach. In Los Angeles, he was tasked with preparing a young quarterback in Jared Goff, so he knows what to look for in a young starter.
But Minshew's circumstance is different from your prototypical starting rookie quarterback, Taylor said. Most other young starters are drafted to be the starting quarterback from day and therefore receiver the bulk of coaching and reps in practice. This wasn't the case for Minshew, making his performance even more impressive in Taylor's eyes.
"The impressive thing is he wasn’t picked to be the starter, whereas some of those guys were, and so they probably (got) starting reps all training camp," Taylor said. "And when you have Nick (Foles) probably getting all those reps, he is in a new system, and all of a sudden you have a rookie who has got to come in and he is really preparing to be the No. 2, he is not getting a lot of reps probably the first couple of weeks."
"That is not easy to do, so credit to him and credit to all of those guys that get him going there. They have done a really good job."
Of all starting quarterbacks, Minshew has thrown for the 16th-most yards (1,442) and is tied for sixth-most touchdowns (nine). The sixth-round pick has flashed impressive accuracy and downfield passing ability, and most importantly has brought the Jaguars back from deficits to make the game competitive in three of his five starts.
Minshew showed that same uncanny competitive edge at Washington State, Taylor said. And while Taylor did not do extensive homework on Minshew entering the draft, he did watch him and keep tabs on the young passer, and he was impressed then as he is now.
"He really affected his team there and he really affected the fans there. Those are all pretty good qualities to have," he said.
Taylor's job in Week 7 will be making sure his banged-up secondary can prevent Minshew and his skill players from extending plays and getting big chunks of yards. Cincinnati's defense will be missing starting cornerbacks William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatric due to injuries sustained in the team's Week 6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The primary receiving threats to the Bengals depleted defense will be DJ Chark and Dede Westbrook, each of whom has been on the receiving end of explosive passing plays over the last month.
"Chark and Dede are good guys outside. They have some good talent out there you can throw the ball to, guys that are pretty explosive and can make some plays," Taylor said. "They have made plays down the field for them."