Gardner Minshew’s ability to dominate a new playbook makes him special.
While some quarterbacks fall to pieces in a new offense, Gardner Minshew thrives in it.
The second-year pro will once again have to embrace a new offensive philosophy at the quarterback position. This is nothing new for the Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback. He transferred four times in college, finishing up as a Pac-12 superstar in the Air Raid for the Washington State Cougars. This helped him be drafted by the Jaguars in the sixth round.
As a rookie in 2019, Minshew went 6-6 as a starter, completing 60.6 of his passes for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and only interceptions. He quarterbacked the Jaguars to all six of their wins last season, while the highly-paid free-agent acquisition of Nick Foles netted them not a single victory. No wonder Minshew enters 2020 as the unquestioned starter down in Duval.
Even with the biggest opportunity of his life possibly being undermined by a global pandemic, Minshew relishes putting in the work to thrive in Jay Gruden’s new offensive system. The former Washington Redskins head coach replaces John DeFilippo on Doug Marrone‘s staff. The last time Gruden was an offensive coordinator, the Cincinnati Bengals were an excellent football team.
“When I was at Washington State, this was kind of the similar thing because I wasn’t there for the spring, so I had to a lot of it on my own, as well, but we’ve been fortunate,” Minshew said to ESPN. “We’re meeting everyday with [quarterbacks] coach [Ben] McAdoo, coach Gruden and the other guys in the QB room, and we’re all just helping each other and getting as good of work as we can, and I think you have to take ownership on our own as well.”
Gardner Minshew is the master of new playbooks and Mississippi Mustaches.
If anybody believes Minshew’s upward trajectory will continue in yet another offense, it would be his equally interesting college coach Mike Leach, now in his first year leading the Mississippi State Bulldogs in SEC Country.
“His path [to this point] was a rough path and it was one where he had to adjust,” said Leach to ESPN. “There’s not many people in the NFL that have been a part of more offenses than Gardner Minshew. He’s an adapter, and he’s skilled at it, and he’s trained at it. All that is going to play into his favor to put his best foot forward.”
“It’s tempting to say that [seven offenses in six years] is not ideal. Well, things aren’t always ideal. You deal with what you have in front of you, but I can’t think of anybody better in this situation than Gardner Minshew.”
Minshew’s cerebral nature and undeniable adaptability are reasons he will have staying power in this league. He may be viewed as Baker Mayfield Lite with similar builds, similar college offenses and similar stylish senses. However, the Jaguars now they’ve got one of the smartest signal-callers in the league in the quarterback room. Marrone continues to be impressed by him.
“Very few can take it from the classroom to the field [and] that’s why there is a lot of anxiety during this time,” said Marrone to ESPN. “When I was an assistant coach, I probably had less than 1% of those players that could do that.”
“The rest of them relied on the film work, the walk-through, the making an error and then correcting it to get better. So fortunate for us, Gardner is a guy that can get out there and really learn and try to do what you want when he gets on the field.”
Whether it be Leach, Marrone and hopefully Gruden singing Minshew’s praises, the real question is how well will the rest of the Jaguars offense adapt to the new scheme? We should expect Minshew’s rapport with wide receiver D.J. Chark to strengthen in year two together. Though they always get hurt, free agents Chris Thompson and Tyler Eifert know Gruden’s system by heart.
What it boils down to is if running back Leonard Fournette can do his best impersonation of his NFL prototype Adrian Peterson in Gruden’s system. Fournette proved to be a better receiver out of the backfield last year than what we’ve ever seen out of the block-handed Peterson. It’s a contract year for Fournette, who had his fifth-year option declined by Jacksonville. It’s go time for him.
Even though Jacksonville may have one of the weaker rosters in all of football, the players and coaching staff aren’t going to tank. Marrone won’t be an NFL head coach again if he gets axed. Who is to say Minshew will ever get another opportunity to be a full-time starter in this league? Jacksonville may not win a ton of games, but but let’s not sleep on Minshew in this offense.
If he’s as good as we think, Minshew can be the next Andy Dalton in Gruden’s offensive system.