The Jaguars are entering the first full year of the Garnder Minshew experience. The 2019 sixth-round pick was thrown into the fire during week one of the regular season after Nick Foles suffered a broken collarbone. Minshew guided the Jaguars to four wins in eight starts before Foles returned to the field. The veteran and former Super Bowl MVP struggled in his return, and Minshew once again took the reigns. He finished 6-6 as a starter, completing 60.6% of his passes, for 21 touchdowns, and 3,271 yards, with just six interceptions.
After the season, the Jaguars parted ways with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo — a noted fan and friend of Nick Foles — and traded Nick Foles to the Bears, making it clear that Gardner Minshew would get his shot to lead the Jaguars in his second year as a pro.
On Tuesday, Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone spoke with the media via a conference call. He touched on a number of topics, including the development of Gardner Minshew.
"Well, I think obviously we want to see a big jump," said Marrone. "Right now, we're at a time where, again, we're still in the dead period, so until phase one actually opens up, then we'll be able to get our players the materials that they need. Obviously, it's going to be some new things that we're going to have to learn, but Gardner has always been … He works at a really high level, so I'm not concerned about that. I talked to a couple players, texted Gardner, but he's working extremely hard and he's doing everything he can, safety-wise, and I think we just have to get him in here, start practicing at some point, and see what he can do, as far as with him and [Offensive Coordinator] Jay [Gruden], and the system, what he likes, what we have to get him better and improve at, then work on the things that he did well and really finetune a lot of those things. We're excited for him. It's a great opportunity. He's not going to change the way he is; he's a hard-working kid and he's got a lot of potential, and we have to make sure that everyone around him is doing their job and doing it at a high level."
The Jaguars' coaching staff, front office, and fans are all banking on a big jump from Gardner Minshew in his second year in Duval. Will they get it?
I believe the answer is yes. Several principal factors lead me to this conclusion.
An offseason to focus on being the Jaguars' quarterback
We are, in fact, in a dead period, and there's no real answer as to when to teams and players will be able to begin practicing with each other in an official capacity. But if there's going to be an NFL season in 2020, teams will undoubtedly have the opportunity to have a training camp or something like it, before the start of the season.
Last year, Gardner Minshew was busting his tail, just trying to prove to a team that he was worthy of a draft pick. For months he competed in the rookie circuit, from the Senior Bowl to the Combine to team interviews and finally the draft. After arriving in Jacksonville, he wasn't even guaranteed a spot on the roster. Minshew struggled, at times, to show his metal during OTAs and training camp. He battled with Alex McGough for the primary backup QB spot throughout training camp and the preseason. Because he was entrenched in a competition for the second and final QB spot on the roster, Minshew didn't receive many reps on a daily basis. He struggled through much of the preseason, failing to toss even one touchdown pass in a preseason game. But ultimately, Minshew won the backup QB job and then went on to have the most impressive rookie season of any quarterback in the league in 2019.
All of this to say, with a full offseason to prepare to be the Jaguars' starting quarterback, Minshew should be able to hone his craft. He's shown the ability to improve in areas of his game quickly. Early on in his rookie season, Minshew struggled to keep possession of the ball when under pressure. But throughout the course of the year, Minshew was able to clean up his ball security and rarely fumbled down the stretch. He'll need to improve in a number of areas this offseason, but with a full summer to focus on just that, he should be able to make significant strides.
Jay Gruden will get the best out of him.
When Jay Gruden has been afforded the opportunity to work with smart, talented QBs, he's been able to guide them to success. Gruden is one of the sharpest offensive minds in football and a bit of QB guru. A former legendary Arena Football quarterback himself, Gruden helped develop Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins from a young age and saw them develop into quality starters. Neither Andy Dalton or Kirk Cousins has the same "it factor" that Gardner Minshew possesses. Under the tutelage of Jay Gruden, Minshew will develop by leaps and bounds. Not to mention, the offense in 2020 will be tailored to suit Garnder Minshew's strengths.
The Jaguars are going to have a more talented offense around Minshew.
Make no mistake about it, having as many talented players around Gardner Minshew in 2020 as possible, will be a priority for the Jaguars' front office and coaching staff.
Doug Marrone alluded to that idea on Tuesday. When asked if the Jaguars have enough offensive weapons, Marrone had this to say:
"I would say the answer to that is no. We're always trying to find more weapons whether it be on the outside, whether it be on the backfield or at the tight end position or whether it's someone that is going to push the offensive line"... "The one thing about offense is you always want playmakers and you're always looking. I don't know that I've ever heard said, 'Oh my gosh, we have enough.' It's one of those things that you never have enough. It's like chocolate chip cookies. There's never enough in the house for me."
Sounds like a coach ready to inject some offensive talent, no? The Jaguars already added the talented yet oft-injured, Tyler Eifert to the mix. Eifert stayed healthy for all 16 games in 2019, and the Jaguars are hoping he can do so again in 2020. If he's able to stay on the field for a long stretch of games, he'll help Minshew and the offense in a big way.
The Jaguars have twelve draft picks in the 2020 draft and could have more on the way with Yannick Ngakoue wanting to be traded. They should be able to add at least one quality starting receiver opposite DJ Chark and perhaps a couple more weapons that can play specific roles in Jay Gruden's offense.
Doug Marrone and the rest of the Jaguars' organization believe Gardner Minshew will make a significant leap in year two. I tend to agree with them thanks to the arrival of Jay Gruden, a full offseason-ish of work, and new toys to play with.
How do you see Gardner Minshew's second season playing out?
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