Jaguars: Making the Right Decision at Quarterback
By David Levin
It’s only January and the Jacksonville Jaguars are already faced with a tough decision to make over the starting quarterback for 2020.
It’s going to be the most talked-about topic the Jacksonville Jaguars front office and coaching staff will face this offseason and leading up to the start of the 2020 regular season.
Who will be the team’s starting quarterback? Does Nick Foles wrestle the job away from Gardner Minshew or does the rookie continue to show enough moxie to hang onto a role he probably never should have been removed from after Week 9 of the NFL season?
The good news is this January and there are variables that will play into the Jaguars all-important decision as both David Caldwell and Doug Marrone prepare for free agency, the NFL Draft, OTAs and eventually training camp.
The bad news is making the wrong decision will more than likely cost both men their jobs after the season.
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And while the topic gains more steam as local and national writers look for angles to find this offseason, there is a laundry list of items the front office must also address with this organization. If anything, the Jaguars will once again be one of those teams to monitor from now until September and beyond.
As ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco wrote, the front office can take its time with this decision, look to find missing pieces to the offensive puzzle to fit around whoever is under center.
"“The two quarterbacks know where they’ll be in 2020, so they’re at least one step ahead of where they were last January,” DiRocco rote. “Beyond that, it’s going to be a while before the team commits to one or the other as the starter.”"
Watching Minshew on the field, who is more athletic and makes more plays outside the pocket, his play off the snap was critical given the offensive line was abused week after week. Foles is more sturdy in the pocket with a stronger arm. It’s a contrast that if the two players formed one quarterback, the Jaguars may just have the best passing game in the NFL.
And make no mistake, with better quarterback play, the running game would improve and the wide receivers on the current roster would receive plenty more attention.
Marrone addressed the quarterback question when he spoke with the media on Dec. 31, the day he learned he would remain the team’s head coach for the 2020 season.
"“I think we have two that I know about right now and I really feel comfortable with them,” he said. “I think it’s something that we have to use in our favor. In the past, there have been situations where we haven’t had many or maybe I’ve just had one. I’ve never had two. We’ve got to do a heck of a job making sure we’re getting both guys ready.”"
From a statistical breakdown, it’s not even close as to who should remain under center,, but Minshew had more games to show his talents given Foles was injured with a broken clavicle just 11 snaps into the NFL season and played in just four games in 2019.
Minshew was the winning quarterback in all six victories this past season and threw for 3,712 yards with 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Also, when he was re-inserted into the Jaguars lineup in the second half of the loss to Tampa Bay, he cut down on his turnovers, something that plagued him in the first half of the season.
The Jaguars still have $30.75 million invested in Foles in guaranteed money for the 2020 season, something that might also factor into the decision with playing time. Marrone said on many occasions he will play the guy who he believes will give the team the best chance to win football games.
Last season, it was clearly Minshew. This coming season, who knows? But the Jaguars don’t have to make that decision now. They just have to make the right one for the future.
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