Gardner Minshew still faces adversity as the Jaguars starter

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 08: Gardner Minshew #15 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on from the sideline during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field on December 08, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 08: Gardner Minshew #15 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on from the sideline during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field on December 08, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Even though he has been named the starter for the 2020 season, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew is still facing tough odds from the media.

It seems wherever Gardner Minshew turns this offseason, there are questions about his future with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The second-year pro was officially announced as the starter for the 2020 season, but as many local and national writers have written, what happens this season will determine his future with the organization. The 23-year-old isn’t on a tight leash, given the fact he is the best option in the team’s quarterback room, but there are questions that if the Jaguars are in fact as bad as some are predicting this upcoming season, the organization will look to add a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and once again rebuild.

Also clouding the situation in Jacksonville is a front office that might not have the same components in 2021 based on the team’s record and whether or not head coach Doug Marrone will still be the one supporting Minshew, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, after the new year.

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If this is, in fact, a “one and done” type of season for Gardner Minshew as the team’s starter from Week 1 of the NFL season, he and new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had better devise a plan to eliminate any doubt in a new regime’s mind that he should be the starter this time next year.

"“That means the next nine months are critical for Minshew to prove that he can be the long-term starting quarterback for a franchise has been searching for one since Mark Brunell held the spot from midway through the 1995 season until September 2003,” writes Michael DiRocco of “And Minshew is taking the reins with a virtual offseason, a new offensive coordinator (Jay Gruden) and the uncertainty of when — or even if — the NFL will begin training camp and the season.”"

Gruden was a great choice by Marrone to replace the departed John DeFilippo, who wound up in Chicago and had the good fortune of Nick Foles following him there this season. The Gruden-Minshew dynamic is interesting because the gunslinger mentality of the quarterback, combined with the West Coast approach to the offense the former Washington Redskins head coach brings will certainly be one of the key storylines of this upcoming season.

And the sand in the hourglass that continually sinks as Marrone’s time in Jacksonville could be more limited.

The general consensus it the Jaguars would look to add someone like Trevor Lawrence from Clemson or possibly Justin Fields from Ohio State in the Draft. But there will be other quarterback options in free agency where an Andy Dalton, who has familiarity with Gruden from their time together in Cincinnati, could be another option.

For now, it’s Gardner Minshew’s ship to command. The return on last season was solid but not spectacular. The 3,271 yards passing and 21 touchdowns with only six interceptions show a resume to build on. But there are games when he looked like, well a rookie. He fumbled 13 times last season and was scrambling around an offensive line that could have gotten him broken in half on many occasions.

There are many layers of change that need to happen for this all to work properly. And when it comes right down to it, Gardner Minshew will more than likely determine the fate of not only Marrone but the coaching staff and general manager David Caldwell.

Yes, there is that added pressure as well.

"“I think the biggest thing for that position, and we said it last year, is the ability to win games,” Caldwell said. “And Gardner’s done that throughout his career, whether it was high school, whether it was at Washington State where he won 11 games the year he came out, and last year for us. He’s got an ability to lead a team and win games. … That’s always going to be the No. 1 thing.”"

But can he win enough to keep the natives happy here in Jacksonville? What is the win total he must get to so he can secure another season as the leader of this offense? There is a sense of urgency for this team to turn things around, but as you look at the front office’s decisions in free agency and the Draft, the Jaguars got very young in a hurry.

This is more than a one-year plan to become relevant again.

The Jaguars didn’t do anything drastic over the offseason by bringing in a big-named veteran to stir the pot and have an open competition for the starting job. Mike Glennon was brought in, most likely to unseat Joshua Dobbs as the backup, but he is no threat to the starter. Jake Luton, another sixth-round quarterback from Oregon State, is a project and will most likely be the third arm on the roster.

As of now, Gardner Minshew is still the biggest name on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster. That’s how it should be. And with a new plan of action on the drawing board, it remains to be seen if anyone will come in and change that. The quarterback has been in this situation before.

It’s almost as if this is his “norm” and he accepts this kind of challenge each season. That’s a good thing knowing he already knows there are detractors out there. His job is not only to win games here in Jacksonville but also to silence those critics in the process.

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