Revisiting Gardner Minshew’s rise with the Jaguars: The mania, the magic, the mustache


Gardner Minshew is stll the most interesting quarterback in the NFL. The Jaguars’ second-year starter has constructed on his shock rookie success for a red-hot opening to the 2020 season.

Jacksonville is 1-1 and has put up 57 factors over its first two video games thanks in massive half to Minshew. He is accomplished 75.four % of his passes with 7.9 yards per try and an astronomical 115.7 passing effectivity score. He is thrown six landing passes to 2 interceptions, the latter simply final week. He is additionally picked good spots to run when wanted in opposition to the Colts and Titans.

MORE: Minshew, Fitzpatrick to settle facial hair fracas on “Thursday Night Football”

The Jaguars might have both focused Minshew’s substitute in NFL free company or early in the draft. However transitioning to a brand new offense underneath Jay Gruden, they caught with “Minshew II” in 12 months 2 and are being rewarded early going into Thursday night time’s Week Three dwelling recreation vs. the Dolphins.

This is a glance again on Minshew’s unlikely rise from maniacal, magical meme to a top-half QB in the NFL:

How and why did the Jaguars draft Gardner Minshew?

The Jaguars wanted to pick out a quarterback in the 2019 draft as they had been beginning over at the place, shifting on from 2014 first-rounder Blake Bortles. They splurged on former Eagles supersub Nick Foles in free company, however Bortlees’ departure additionally referred to as for them to take a growth kind.

With the No. 7 general choose, it was assured the Jaguars would not get both Kyler Murray (No. 1 to the Cardinals) or Daniel Jones (No. 6 to the Giants). They handed on Dwayne Haskins (Washington) in Spherical 1, Drew Lock (Broncos) in Spherical 2 and Will Grier (Panthers) in Spherical 3. These early non-picks led them to attend till the sixth spherical, No. 178 general, for Minshew. 

9 QBs in all had been taken forward of Minshew, a listing that features Ryan Finley (Bengals), Jarrett Stidham (Patriots), Easton Stick (Chargers) and Clayton Thorson (Eagles). Murray’s excessive choice helped Minshew get extra discover, provided that he additionally had a great grasp of NFL stylish Air Raid ideas from his time underneath Mike Leach at Washington State.

How has Minshew discovered such early success in the NFL?

Minshew was used to a high-volume passing recreation, throwing lots for Washington State after transferring from East Carolina. When Foles went down in Week 1 final yr with a damaged collarbone in opposition to the Chiefs, Minshew got here in unfazed regardless of being thrown into the hearth in his first NFL recreation. He confirmed his psychological toughness early, however his soccer intelligence was vital to him accelerating his growth.

The Jaguars had been lucky to have a deep, versatile receiving corps timed with the meteoric second-year rise of wideout D.J. Chark. Between Doug Marrone, former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and present offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, Minshew has had plenty of help to execute quite a lot of West Coast ideas.

By the time Foles got here again in Week 11, Minshew grew to become the QB who gave the Jaguars a greater probability to win video games. As soon as they did not attempt to power Foles into the lineup after Week 13 due to how a lot they invested in him for one yr, there was renewed rookie confidence in Minshew. He completed robust, together with two stellar successful performances in opposition to the Raiders and Colts.

Minshew has a trait that is not innate for many younger quarterbacks. He does not wilt in the face of strain and has the toughness and athleticism to purchase time to extra effectively cross downfield. This season, the Jaguars’ working recreation has come again stronger after Leonard Fournette’s fade, thanks to raised offensive line play and the spectacular undrafted rookie working of James Robinson.

The Jaguars additionally correctly added a devoted receiving again, Gruden favourite Chris Thompson, plus a big-bodied tight finish, Tyler Eifert. Additionally they obtained extra big-play oriented with their receiving corps by drafting Laviska Shenault Jr. and fading slot man Dede Westbrook. Early in 2020, Keelan Cole has re-emerged as a powerful No. 2 reverse Chark.

Not solely did Jacksonville cross on intriguing choices equivalent to Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts in the draft, it additionally resisted happening a veteran path for a QB equivalent to Cam Newton. Whereas that confirmed that the group is dedicated to seeing it via with Minshew, at the similar time — behind the scenes, beginning with the hiring of Gruden — the Jaguars additionally tailor-made their offense extra to Minshew’s strengths.

What’s completely different about Gardner Minshew in 12 months 2?

Minshew is now not catching groups unexpectedly. Gone is that rookie sensation feeling when watching him play. He appears to be like extra like a longtime veteran starter with the method he is carried himself in the first two video games.

The Jaguars signed journeyman Mike Glennon and drafted one other QB, Jake Luton, in the sixth spherical. But it surely’s been clear this offseason that the Jaguars had been empowering Minshew with no additional sophomore strain of trying over his shoulder.

Minshew has constructed on chemistry with his teammates and likewise grasped Gruden’s QB-friendly playbook effectively. He is neither a flashy overachiever nor a younger bridge starter simply ready to get replaced. He is motivated to not make the Jaguars tank, as a result of the higher he performs, the extra they win. And the much less they lose, the worse they’re positioned to faucet into a powerful quarterback class early in 2021.

What’s up with the Gardner Minshew mane and mustache?

Again at Washington State, Leach gave Minshew his probability begin for a Energy 5 program, ending a lengthy school journey that started at Troy College and had been beforehand stamped by starring for Northwest Mississippi Neighborhood Faculty. Minshew was allowed to be the freewheeling chief, and a part of that was letting his facial hair develop — wanting a Ryan Fitzpatrick-style beard and complementary old-school mullet.

Minshew as a substitute settled for the “Uncle Rico” look, headband and all, solely with extra grizzle. He let his hair develop and went full beard during the offseason COVID-19 quarantine, however Minshew has gone again to the traditional Fu Manchu for the season. The mustache has develop into a giant a part of Minshew’s identification, however he is offering extra causes to concentrate on how he is taking part in vs. what’s on his face.

Why Gardner Minshew is greater than mania and magic

Minshew Mania. Minshew Magic. Nicknames like that for what Minshew has accomplished on the subject to encourage and produce new power to the Jaguars’ franchise and followers recommend he is a fad, like he is Tim Tebow on the Broncos or Jeremy Lin on the Knicks. But when that had been the case, the fade would already be right here.

As a substitute, Minshew has made it a good higher September to recollect, making a case that he is the No. 2 QB in his draft class behind Murray, forward of each Jones and Haskins. The final time a sixth-round choose at quarterback busted out, he arrived to remain for a very long time — Tom Brady.

However might the Jaguars nonetheless substitute Gardner Minshew in 2021?

There are three surefire first-round quarterbacks in subsequent yr’s draft: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. After Lawrence goes No. 1 general to whichever workforce picks there, Lance will probably be gone in the prime 10.

In Sporting Information’ preseason 2021 mock draft, during which the Jaguars had been projected to select No. 2, Fields was mocked to them. The Jaguars, nonetheless, can be presently choosing No. 16 general, out of vary for all three QBs.

Assuming Dak Prescott is re-signed lengthy time period by the Cowboys and Newton will get one other season with the Patriots, none of the older pending free-agent QBs are extra interesting than Minshew, primarily based on how he is taking part in at the second.

How lengthy is Gardner Minshew’s rookie contract with the Jaguars?

Minshew obtained a four-year deal price $2.7 million with solely $190,884 of that assured. He earned practically $687,000 in base wage as a rookie earlier than the bump in 2020 to still-a-bargain $850,000, what he is additionally in line to make subsequent yr.

The Jaguars might need the look of a rebuilding workforce, but when Minshew retains taking part in effectively, they need to think about going again to being extra aggressive in free company to reap the benefits of having a extremely underpaid quarterback. For 2021, no workforce has extra room underneath the cap than Jacksonville at practically $85 million obtainable.

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