Gardner Minshew has been working diligently this offseason to ensure that he gives himself the best chance to succeed in 2020, and in turn, gives his team the opportunity to win games.
"Since the day after the Super Bowl, I've been going six days a week for the last, however many months it's been," said Minshew. "It's been a lot of fun seeing growth in yourself and your game. I've been talking to the receivers and everybody. We're working on being back in Jacksonville soon; we'll be able to get some fieldwork there. We've been doing some players only walkthroughs virtually that have been helping guys learn and also just getting us together. Then, moving forward, we're also going to try and get together a little bit more before camp to kind of get what reps we can while being safe and smart."
Minshew hasn't taken much of a break and his been working on his body, trying to find the most suitable ratio of muscle to speed. He wants to have more zip on the ball in 2020, but not at the cost of mobility. The mustachioed young QB had a highly successful rookie campaign, winning six of his twelve starts and throwing 21 touchdown passes to only six interceptions. But Minshew realizes that if you're not getting better in the offseason, you're falling behind.
"It's been good. I've been trying to (get better) really every asset – bigger, faster, stronger. Really putting an emphasis on trying to figure out the best weight for me to have as much arm strength as possible while maintaining as much speed. So just figuring that out, it's been a fun process. I've had a lot of help from Coach Anthony Tumbarello. I've been training with him a lot down in South Florida. Also, I have been using Coach Milo's (Tom Myslinski) stuff with the Jags, kind of a joint effort there, we've been able to get me moving in the right direction."
Despite Minsew's heroics during his rookie year, he understands there are specific areas of his game that need improvement. During his first stint as the Jaguars' starting QB, Minshew struggled with fumbles, but during his second run as the man under center for the Jaguars, he was able to clean that up. Now Minshew is focused on getting end better in that regard.
"When I came back in, I did a little bit better job and having that awareness of when to call a play dead, or when to keep pushing and try to make the big play. It's a credit to the coaches around me, teaching me up. That's something that I will continue to strive for and find that balance."
Even though Minshew knows he needs to improve going into his sophomore campaign, he has full confidence in himself.
"I believe that I give us the best chance to win no matter what, and I just got to prove that every day and I'm excited for the opportunity to be able to prove that."
Needless to say, Minshew is ready to attack the task ahead. He's working with his fifth offensive coordinator in as many years, but the young QB from Mississippi has a plan for that too.
"It's been awesome with Coach Gruden getting in, and you know he is in all of our meetings, so we are getting to hear the offense through his eyes and how's he thinking it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun for the both of us and I think we are going to mesh well. With Eifert, I call him with these scripts, and I ask him on every play, 'Alright, what are you thinking here? You know what, what are you expecting?' How do you like to do this? And just kind of just picking his brain for as much information. Similarly, with Chris Thompson, who also has played with Coach Gruden, just kind of hearing their thoughts, seeing it through their eyes, and I think it has been a valuable experience for the both of us."
Gardner Minshew and the rest of the Jaguars' players and coaches undoubtedly know that expectations from the national media are very low. Most outlets consider Jacksonville the worst team in the NFL. From a national perspective, it's hard to find analysts who believe in Gardner Minshew. ESPN went as far as to ask the question: "Is Trevor Lawrence destined for Jacksonville?"
"I think it should put a chip on everybody's shoulder on our team, you know, being kind of counted out like that," said Minshew. "I think we do have a lot to prove, prove that we are not what anybody says about us, the only people that really know, the only peoples whose opinions matter is who is in that huddle, who is on that team and I think we are going to set those expectations for ourselves and not worry about what anybody else has to say about us."
The Jags will have their opportunity to prove the detractors wrong this fall. I learned the hard way that betting against Minshew isn't a wise wager. Perhaps the rest of the nation will now learn the same lesson.
The Jaguars may not compete for a playoff spot in 2020; after all, they're the youngest team in the NFL by a wide margin, but I doubt the blame will fall squarely on Minshew, even though he'd shoulder it willingly.
I'm not here to crown Minshew or proclaim him the Jaguars' franchise quarterback, but this is a kid that proved many scouts and coaches wrong as a rookie. He's humble enough to know he needs to work harder than many of the other signal-callers around the league, but confident enough to know he can get the job done with the game on the line.
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