By: Hays Carlyon
Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew did not lead the offense to a touchdown in Thursday night’s second preseason game against Philadelphia at TIAA Bank Field.
Two starts, no touchdowns.
The question is, how many quarterbacks would have success with these guys?
The supporting cast playing with Minshew consistently disappointed as Philadelphia won 24-10. There were dropped balls, penalties that negated a touchdown and protection busts galore with no reliable ground game.
Still, Minshew delivered enough that he likely secured the backup job behind starter Nick Foles, held out for the second consecutive week.
“I thought that Gardner gave us a really good opportunity to win the game,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “He did a lot for me where I feel that he’s done a good job.”
Minshew played the first three quarters and completed 19 of 29 passes for 202 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He did lose a fumble on a sack.
Minshew was much more effective than in the preseason opener at Baltimore, a ghastly 29-0 loss in which the Jaguars never crossed the Ravens 49-yard line.
Minshew was impressive on third down, a great sign of growth. He guided the offense to a 5-of-10 conversion rate in the first half.
“That’s why with Gardner tonight I was happy,” Marrone said. “He got us out of four things that a lot of young quarterbacks are not going to be able to do. He’s a bright kid, a smart kid. I think that he showed he got better from the week before.”
If you need more proof of Marrone’s admiration of the sixth-round rookie, let me offer you this comment he made when asked about Minshew shaking off the big hits and poor play against the Ravens.
“Gardner just was unwavering, just ‘Let’s go,’” Marrone said. “There was a play tonight that will get overlooked. It was third and long and he winds up throwing the check-down, and we get about six or seven yards. We’re short of the first down. We’re going to punt, but instead of trying to force the ball down the field at that time of the game, we didn’t have anything. It probably would have been a poor throw. It could be a turnover. The kid makes a throw and throws it complete. We go ahead and punt. It’s a close game. That seven yards is a big difference. There’s a lot of things that he does that I like. His demeanor though is probably one of the most impressive.”
Minshew said his confidence grew this week in four days of practice after the Ravens loss.
“You get your feet wet and grow in confidence from that,” Minshew said. “The more reps you get, the more comfortable it is. The less foreign it is to you and hopefully continues to get easier from here.”
Minshew also made it clear he wants his teammates to know he’s not afraid of contact. The picture of him getting sacked and losing his helmet in Baltimore was popular on social media all week.
“I’m sure you’ve all seen that several times, as have I,” Minshew said. “That’s one thing I’ve always been taught is to be tough and buckle your chin strap up tighter and give good plays the next play.
That’s one thing you try to bring every week is toughness. You want to be as a quarterback not just a leader from the back but from the front lines and show you’re ready to mix it up with anybody.”
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)