Gardner Minshew’s rookie year comparison not fair to Trevor Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. [Will Dickey/Florida Times-Union]
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. [Will Dickey/Florida Times-Union] /

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew had an outstanding performance against the New York Jets in Week 13. Faster than you can say mustache, talking heads began wondering whether the Jags should have kept him and a recent graph comparing Minshew and Trevor Lawrence is making the rounds on social media. All things considered, it’s not fair as both passers were working under two different sets of circumstances.

CBS Sports compared Lawrence’s and Minshew’s first 12 career starts in the NFL. At first sight, the latter looks like the superior quarterback, as he has a better quarterback rating, more passing yards, more passing touchdowns, fewer interceptions, and a better win-loss record.

If this was your first time tunning into the NFL, you would certainly choose Minshew over Lawrence if you looked at their stats, who wouldn’t? Even those who don’t follow the Jaguars closely would probably take Minshew. Having said that, the post doesn’t tell the whole story as Minshew went on to lose eight of his next nine starts and was even benched in favor of then rookie Jake Luton. A thumb injury played a part in the decision to keep him on the sidelines but even when he was healthy, the coaching staff chose to go with veteran Mike Glennon.

Furthermore, Lawrence arguably has a less talented team and fewer weapons. Even though the Jags won only six games in 2019, Minshew’s rookie year, they had a better overall roster. Here’s the tweet comparing both signal callers:

Gardner Minshew benefited from playing in a more talented team.

A good chunk of the defense that helped the Jaguars get to the AFC Championship in 2017 was still in Jacksonville back in 2019, Mishew’s rookie year. Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell were the team’s top defensive ends while a then-rookie Josh Allen made the Pro Bowl. A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey were the team’s starting cornerbacks. Moreover, D.J. Hayden was one of the top slot cornerbacks in the NFL that year. Only Allen and linebacker Myles Jack remain from that formidable defensive group.

On offense, Minshew had a competent supporting cast. Leonard Fournette was a good all-around running back and finished the year with 1,674 yards from scrimmage. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. had a Pro Bowl campaign, hauling in 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. Chris Coley and Dede Westbrook were better (at least that season) than whatever receivers Lawrence is throwing the ball to in 2021.

In case you are feeling nostalgic or want to see that the Jaguars were once upon a time able to make big plays, here’s a highlight reel of their top plays in 2019. And here’s another one.

Trevor Lawrence has a higher ceiling than Gardner Minshew.

You can’t blame the Jags for drafting Trevor Lawrence. It isn’t often that you have the chance to acquire a generational talent. The Jags even gave Minshew a shot to win the starting job this offsesaon but the rookie was the more talented player of the two.

You could even make the case the Jaguars might not be considerably better with Minshew at the helm. Looking back, it was a good thing that he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. He wouldn’t have made much of a difference with Jacksonville’s current collection of talent. Now in Philly, he has been able to showcase his talent, and most likely saw his stock rise after his most recent performance.

Then again, it’s too early to compare Minshew’s and Lawrence’s career. The latter has a higher ceiling and is the more talented of the two. Bookmark this post and come back in five years. By then, you will have a better picture and can realistically say Minshew is or isn’t better than Lawrence.

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