Gardner Minshew: What if he had been the QB of the 2017 team?
How would the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars have looked if Gardner Minshew had been under center instead of castoff Blake Bortles?
I don’t necessarily believe the Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to tank their 2020 season with the hope of landing one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. What I do believe is this is a franchise that is in the process of making a major cultural change for the future and in order to do that, this team will suffer another season or two before it becomes relevant in the NFL once more.
All the talk of how good this team was in 2017 must come to a screeching halt, shifting the focus to what looks to be another rebuilding project that, if done correctly, will atone for past sins of the organization and a culture of winning, not whining about what could have been.
Sometimes, you must learn from your mistakes. The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the middle of a major lesson in what happens when high-profile players and mismanagement do not mix. And for those you at home believing the rift between Jalen Ramsey and the front office could be avoided, it’s as simple as this – the player always thought he was bigger than the franchise that brought him into the league.
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There were missteps along the way on both sides, as there appears to be with Yannick Ngakoue and Leonard Fournette. Now, with a new regime in place, as Tony Khan has eluded through a Twitter rant with Ngakoue prior to the NFL Draft, this organization is traveling a new path.
As I read what Randy Gurzi had to say about the Jaguars on NFL Spin Zone and their “misstep” this offseason in free agency and the NFL Draft, I see the connection between the moves general manager David Caldwell has made in recent weeks and how the appearance of a tank job must look.
Gurzi makes an interesting point when he asks what would happen if the team from 2017, the one I believe should be forgotten about for a while, had current quarterback Gardner Minshew under center instead of Blake Bortles? Things might have been a little different.
"“As a rookie, Minshew was able to complete 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,271 yards with 21 touchdowns and only six picks. The year they went to the AFC Championship, Bortles completed 60.2 percent of his throws for 3,687 yards with a 21-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio,” Gurzi writes.“There were warts in Minshew’s game for sure, but he was further along in his first campaign than Bortles at the height of his. And the defense that Jacksonville had still possessed a lot of talent from their near Super Bowl run.”"
That is what Jacksonville Jaguars fans and the local and national media need to focus on. Minshew isn’t a polished elite passer by any means, but he is better than the Jaguars have had since the days of David Garrard. He has the potential to be the best signal-caller this team has had since Mark Brunell was in his prime.
And then there is the other side to that argument that stresses the fan base and the coaching staff is taking a leap of faith that the guy with the holes in his game last season despite six wins will make a Dan Marino-like jump to superstardom. First, Gardner Minshew isn’t Dan Marino and the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t even close to being the 1984 Miami Dolphins.
But you get my point. The expectations for Minshew might be a little too much given how the roster has been overhauled and the defense will once again play without stars who have been released or jettisoned somewhere else.
Trevor Lawrence of Justin Fields could be the prize the Jaguars get for finishing at the bottom of the NFL basement, but there is still talent on this team to make things interesting. I predicted five wins, but the NFL is about ebb and flow. That could change as other teams show their true faces this season.
I appreciate Gurzi’s candor about what could have been and what appears to be. I also now wonder what 2017 would have been like with Minshew instead of Bortles under center. Would it have been that magical, or would it have been just another losing season?
Regardless of how that turned out, it would have once again been interesting to watch.