Quarterback Gardner Minshew is the perfect man to help turn around the Jacksonville Jaguars’ season. He’s special.
He isn’t the perfect quarterback. It’s hard to believe — I know — because, frankly, he has the perfect mustache. But Minshew hasn’t been so brilliant that the Jaguars feel good about drafting running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick instead of quarterback Patrick Mahomes in 2017. (Ouch.) Minshew, a 2019 sixth-round pick, has displayed some limitations, even while winning over NFL fans with his swagger. Even when accepting those realities, it’s easy to see that the rookie has checked a few necessary boxes to bring hope to the Jaguars after an agonizing clavicle injury to Nick Foles.
Let’s start with his arm talent. Minshew displayed accuracy that, if demonstrated on a more consistent basis, could be a major problem for opposing defenses. One of his most brilliant passes may have been an incompletion. On a third-and-4 from the 22-yard line, Minshew lofted up a pass for receiver Dede Westbrook, who dropped the arching ball, which was perfectly placed. It would have been a touchdown. Earlier in the game, Minshew found his favorite pass-catcher DJ Chark on the sideline for a 37-yard gain.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler was in the proper position and applied the solid technique, but Minshew dropped the ball into an uncoverable spot.
Let’s check back on Minshew’s mustache.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
That accuracy has also come with strong decision making. Not only is he completing 77.6 percent of his passes, but he’s also committed just one turnover. He’s not Drew Brees — Minshew isn’t dissecting defenses or carrying the offense. Though perhaps that day will come. But the rookie can already manage the game — that’s invaluable for Jacksonville, which has the defense to support Minshew.
The Jaguars beat up on an unimpressive Titans team with nine sacks drawing five offensive holding penalty. (The volume of these calls was truly offensive to Tom Brady, who ended up turning off the game in the first half.) The Jaguars held the Titans offense to a pitiful 4.5 yards per play. It’s the same defense that allowed 40 points to the Kansas City Chiefs, so the Jags defense — just like the Minshew — has some maturing to do, particular if cornerback Jalen Ramsey gets traded.
But Jacksonville’s win over the Titans showed a recipe for success — not unlike the one they had in 2017 when they went the AFC title game. If the Jaguars are going to have any success in 2019, they’ll need to rally around their defense first and foremost. Even with the hype getting a little out of hand, Minshew is perfect for the Jaguars because he’s smart and mature enough to let the defense do the work for him.