The biggest offseason storyline for the Jacksonville Jaguars was probably the fact that they had acquired Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles from the Philadelphia Eagles. With this acquisition, the thought was that Foles would be the Jags’ quarterback of the future. With this opportunity, Foles would get the much-deserved opportunity to be a starting quarterback, an opportunity that he only had in past years because of injuries to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
Unfortunately for Foles, he will no longer be playing this season, as he is out indefinitely with a fractured clavicle (collarbone). That means one thing in Duval County: the Gardner Minshew era has begun.
Who exactly is Gardner Minshew, you might ask? In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Minshew with the 178th overall pick in the sixth round out of Washington State University. Minshew was a graduate transfer last year at Washington State, as he started his undergraduate football career at Northwest Mississippi Community College and finished up at East Carolina University, collecting multiple accolades along the way.
During his time at NMCC, Minshew led his school to the NJCAA National Football Championship, passing for 3,228 yards along with an impressive 60.8 completion percentage. From there, Minshew transferred to East Carolina University, where he actually was not immediately the starter. Philip Nelson, then a senior, started most of the 2016 season before Minshew started seeing increased action. In 2017, Minshew eventually took over the reins at QB from Duke graduate transfer Thomas Sirk and finished with an impressive statline of 2,140 passing yards and 16 touchdowns.
At Washington State in 2018, Minshew led his school to a record 11 wins, along with winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation’s top fourth-year quarterback. Along the way, he set multiple Washington State records and claimed the conference record for most passing yards in a single season.
Coming into this season, Minshew was expected to learn under Foles. As we have seen so many times, especially in recent years, the rookie got his chance, as he was thrust into Week One action against the Kansas City Chiefs after Foles went down. Given that Foles was out for Week Two, Minshew started in a divisional game against the Houston Texans, a tough 13-12 loss that saw Minshew shine with 213 yards and a passing touchdown.
Last night, Minshew had his best game of the season, going 20-30 for 204 yards and two passing touchdowns in a 20-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans. One of his touchdowns was to tight end James O’Shaughnessy, and the other to wide receiver DJ Chark. It was after the game that not only Jaguars fans, but fans across the league, began to fall in love with Minshew Mania.
When Minshew was asked about the golden opportunity in front of him, he responded “A lot of people never thought that I would get this opportunity, so now that I do have it, I make the most of it. I know I may only get one, so you gotta make the most of it.”
Right now, Minshew is relishing this opportunity, as he led the Jags to their first win of the season after a tough loss against the Texans in the week prior. I expect Minshew to continue to perform and capture the attention of teams and fans across the league.