The Jacksonville Jaguars will go into the offseason with one of the biggest questions unanswered. Who should be the team’s starting quarterback?
Regardless of how the Jaguars finish the 2019 season, it’s very likely that they’re going to have a quarterback controversy on their hands.
Nick Foles drove the team down the field on their second drive of the first game of the season, and capped the drive with a beautiful touchdown pass to DJ Chark. It looked as though the Jaguars had the franchise signal-caller they wanted when they signed Foles to a 4-year, $88M contract in the offseason. Unfortunately, Foles was injured on the play and missed the rest of that game as well as the next eight.
Enter Gardner Minshew, the Jaguars’ sixth-round draft choice in the 2019 NFL draft, which also began “Minshew Mania” and the age of “The ‘Stache”. The rookie not only took the team by storm, but he immediately became one of the biggest stories of the NFL season.
Depending on the rookie wasn’t part of the Jaguars plan as it was believed Foles would answer many questions about the lack of stability at the most important position on the field. To his credit, Minshew performed very well, so much so that he replaced Foles after the veteran returned to action but could not help the Jaguars move the football for two-and-a-half games.
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The fact is, putting “Minshew Mania” aside, the first-year player gives the Jaguars a better chance to win football games on Sunday.
Minshew is currently 21st in passing yards, right behind Josh Allen of Buffalo, two spots behind and less than 100 fewer yards than the favorite to win the NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson. But he’s ahead of Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees. And he’s played two fewer games than all of these quarterbacks.
But the most impressive statistic is his touchdown to interception ratio, which is ninth-best in the NFL. Seven of those quarterbacks ahead of him will be in the playoffs. That’s pretty good company to be in.
Foles did very well with the Philadelphia Eagles when he took over after Wentz got injured. Of course, he was on a much better team with a better set of skill players. The Jaguars are a younger team with a suspect offensive line and a lack of depth at tight end.
Foles has proven he can be successful when he has a strong line to block for him and is surrounded by offensive weapons at his disposal.
Minshew has shown the ability to perform well with lesser talent. He’s posted a QB Rating of over 100 in half the games he’s played.
In the last three years, the Jaguars have drafted and designed a run-first offense. They have tried to address the wide receiver position both through the draft and with a couple of free agent signings. The front office may have hit on second-year star DJ Chark, but they have neglected the tight end position, particularly in the draft where they passed on highly-rated players the last two drafts.
If they can hit on a player either through the draft or free agency in 2020, they may have an offense that is well-rounded and would be much more difficult to game plan for.
In 2020, I expect the Jaguars will have an open competition for the starting quarterback position in training camp. They signed Foles to a franchise-sized contract. But that doesn’t mean he’ll win the job.
The Jaguars just may have drafted their franchise quarterback in the sixth round in 2019, which should delight many of the fans who have supported Minshew this season.