Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew showed poise and presence in a 40-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The Gardner Minshew era for the Jacksonville Jaguars officially started Sunday, 10 plays into the 2019 season. I hate writing this because it means the season is likely over for free agent signee Nick Foles, who broke his clavicle in the 40-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, turning a season of hope into one of great worry.
But for now, it is the sixth-round pick out of Washington State who now has the keys to the offense and is charged with leading this team into the season with games against Houston and Tennessee on the schedule over the next 11 days.
It’s a big difference from the work Minshew got working with backups for the majority of the preseason. He spoke about the opportunity with the media following the game.
"“This is real ball. Senses get heightened, and I had a lot of guys make plays for me today,” he said. “That’s huge. A lot of tough catches out there – Chris [Conley], DJ [Chark Jr.], Dede [Westbrook], so that was huge. We’ve got some stuff we’ve got to fix, but we got some stuff to build on too.”"
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Yes, there were a few positives to take from the loss on Sunday, but there are plenty of things this offense and the defense must work on before playing the Texans next weekend. And for everything this fan base likes about Minshew, the man with the 1970s mustache is still a rookie learning how to play in the NFL, which is never easy.
"“There is never an easy time to come in and play quarterback that’s for sure. I feel like I prepared all week, did everything I could and my coaches did a great job getting me ready,” he added. “Nick [Foles] has done an incredible job helping me every step of the way. We’ve got a really tight unit and a lot of trust in each other so all that makes things easier for sure.”"
Foles injury is one where there is no set date for his return and the team’s hopes of making the playoffs dashed with one play on offense. Now, Minshew must rescue those thoughts and channel his ability to read defenses and learn on the fly.
Head coach Doug Marrone spoke about it after the game with the media and how the injury to Foles is a tough thing, but he will move forward with this team and Minshew under center.
"“You saw eleven guys out there functioning well, and it starts with the quarterback. That’s a lot. I mean, people don’t realize, you’re getting these plays that are coming through our helmet. You’re verbalizing these plays out,” Marrone said.“Then obviously you’ve got to paint a picture in your mind of what’s going on out there. You’re trying to lead. You’re trying to get everyone lined up. Again, I look at it right now and I look at it and I feel a lot better right now than I did coming out of the preseason. I think everyone can see that. We have put a lot of work in him. He did play a lot during the preseason.”"
The Jaguars now turn their attention to the division games with a chance to get a jump on the playoff race. We also begin another chapter in our football story. Will Minshew prove to be a diamond in the rough or will we suffer more growing pains as an organization?