Gardner Minshew has had a whirlwind of an offseason so far. From taking an RV trip across the country that saw stops in Mississippi, Colorado, and Las Vegas — where he piloted an F-16, to taking on Radio Row at the Super Bowl on Wednesday, the Jaguars' young QB has been seemingly everywhere.
On Tuesday, he spoke with several national media outlets, and, of course, he was ever-quotable. "I love Jacksonville," said Minshew. "I kind of feel like I've found my people." Indeed he has. Minshew Mania is alive and well, even after a highly disappointing season for the team as a whole.
So, what's next?
Minshew caught up with John Oehser of Jaguars.com and told him he'd be training in Naples with Ken Mastrole. The former professional quarterback now runs a passing academy and has worked with the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Brandon Allen, EJ Manuel, Jacoby Brissett, and many more. This will be the second consecutive year that Minshew has trained with Mastrole. Minshew told Oehser he wishes he could get into Jay Gruden's playbook now, but the CBA won't allow it. In the meantime, Minshew will work on improving the different aspects of his game, along with attempting to get faster and stronger.
The rookie QB was impressive for the Jaguars, winning six of his 12 starts and finishing as the best rookie QB in almost every meaningful statistical category. There's no guarantee that Minshew will start for the Jaguars next season, but all signs are pointing in that direction. The unexpected release of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, a noted Nick Foles guy, is a strong indication.
But this got me thinking . . . what are the aspects of Minshew's game that he needs to work on the most?
Completing the easy passes
Gardner Minshew struggled, at times, to complete short passes. When throwing to the right or up the middle, his passer rating was within the league average on passes behind the line of scrimmage. But when Minshew was tasked with completing passes behind the LOS to his left, his passer rating dipped severely. The league average passer rating when throwing behind the LOS to the left was 91.4 in 2019. But Minshew's rating was all the way down at 78. For whatever reason, Minshew was a bit uncomfortable tossing passes behind or around the line of scrimmage to his left. He'll need to get that corrected. Missing a short, easy to complete pass is a quick way to kill a drive. For all his struggles in that department, Minshew was excellent at pushing the ball down the field along the boundaries, where he was well above the league average. There's little question that Minshew was superb on passes of 10+ yards down the field, but cleaning up on the short ones will be key.
Gardner Minshew was dynamite in the second half of games for the Jaguars. Few QBs were more effective in the fourth quarter of contests, as evidenced by Minshew's three come from behind wins. But Minshew and the Jaguars were one of the slowest starting teams in the NFL in 2019. In Minshew's 12 starts, the Jaguars averaged eight first-half points. And in four of his final five starts, the Jaguars mustered just three first-half points. There are undoubtedly a number of factors here: his lack of experience and rapport with the Jaguars' starting receivers and a disjointed playbook that was designed for Nick Foles, not Gardner Minshew, were chief among them. Minshew and the Jaguars' coaching staff will need to work on getting him and the rest of the offense going earlier in games next year.
For all the things Gardner Minshew did well as a rookie, ball security wasn't one of them. From a passing perspective, he was surely safe with the ball, throwing just six interceptions in 14 games played (12 starts). But when defenders got ahold of the mustachioed young QB, he put the ball on the ground far too often. Minshew fumbled the ball 13 times last year, the fifth-most in football. An encouraging sign? He cleaned up his act in a big way during his second stint as a starter. Minshew was benched in favor of Nick Foles following the Jaguars' loss in London against the Texans. But when Minshew returned to action in the second half of the Jags' loss to the Bucs, the young QB had already developed in the ball security department. In the final five games he played in for the Jaguars last season, Minshew didn't lose a single fumble and fumbled just twice in total. While he made big strides in that department, Minshew will need to continue to work on ball security throughout his career. Winning the turnover battle is and will always be a key to winning in the NFL.
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