Is there a point where the Jacksonville Jaguars have to really lean in on this whole Gardner Minshew phenomenon?
Can they, somehow, someway, make the move from injured Nick Foles and Foles’ Super Bowl-hero resume and go all in on Minshew?
The beauty to these questions is that they will answer themselves in due time. Foles is still weeks away from returning to the line, meaning the Jaguars coaches and front office will get more evidence before having to make a decision.
But through four starts – and even in the face of Sunday’s 34-27 loss at Carolina – Minshew has done nothing so far that says he shouldn’t continue. Yes, there were three fumbles on Sunday, including one in the fourth quarter on a play where Minshew tried to do too much. There was also a dropped interception by Carolina that should have sealed the game. One of the fumbles was returned for a score, but that wasn’t Minshew’s fault when one of his teammates collided with him.
In the larger sense of how football works, Minshew and the Jaguars had no business being in this game, let alone having a couple of shots to tie the game at the end. Minshew didn’t just almost overcome the Panthers, he almost overcame his own team’s horrendous run defense.
Carolina gashed the Jaguars for 285 yards rushing on 27 carries, including an 84-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey and a 59-yarder by Reggie Bonnafon. There are few quarterbacks at any level who can overcome their team’s defense getting hammered like that, especially when they lose three fumbles on their own.
Yet Minshew somehow did that. His 26-of-44, 374-yards, two-touchdown was prizefighter stuff when coupled with the running of Leonard Fournette (23 carries, 108 yards, one touchdown and another breakaway run for 48 yards this time). Again, the stats are a byproduct of some truly special ability for Minshew, who has already developed an uncanny relationship with second-year wide receiver D.J. Clark.
There are moments when Minshew and Clark look like they have been playing together for four years, not four weeks. Clark’s Elastic Man style of play is reminiscent of Martavis Bryant at his physically gifted best. Minshew has incredible trust in the young receiver already.
Of course, there are concerns. Minshew still has moments where he tries to do too much. The fourth-quarter fumble was exactly a result of that. Minshew has gotten away with some bizarre-looking scrambles so far. The fourth-quarter fumble was the example of what happens when bizarre goes bad.
At the same time, Minshew has obvious football acumen and he has confidence to make up for what he lacks as a classic-looking quarterback. He looks more like fire hydrant with thick legs when he lines up under center.
Then again, that’s not all that far removed from Russell Wilson or Drew Brees, two shorter quarterbacks who have proved the league wrong for years.
What the Jaguars have to figure out is if Minshew is the next version of one of those guys or play the conservative route with Foles?
Foles has the Super Bowl victory that Jacksonville craves. He has the demeanor of a proven leader and the classic looks of a quarterback with his 6-foot-6 frame. He has a career worth of experience. He is the safe and logical choice and that’s not going to change between now and whenever he comes back.
The question is whether Minshew will continue to do enough to force Jacksonville’s hand to do something with incredible. So far, he has done everything possible to do force that decision.
The question is whether Jacksonville will take that risk?
Jaguars to get Nick Foles back to practice
The Jaguars are in need of some positive news and it looks like they have some regarding injured quarterback Nick Foles.
Foles, who’s been out since an injury in game one, will apparently be back at practice starting next week
Coach Doug Marrone told the media Friday that their prized free agent acquisition is anxious to get back:
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone says he thinks QB Nick Foles will be able to return to practice on Wednesday, which keeps Foles on track for a potential return on Nov. 17. Foles has been our since Week 1 with a broken collarbone. https://t.co/w1byEk6jmi
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) October 18, 2019
Foles was injured in the first quarter of the Jaguars opening game with the Kansas City Chiefs suffering a fractured left collarbone. And, the team has been aiming for him to be back at some point in the middle of the season.
ESPN’s Jaguars beat reporter Mike DiRocco’s tweet references that it apparently be the November 17th game with the Colts, as the goal.
In Foles is absence, Jacksonville has turned rookie 6th round pick Gardner Minshew. Minshew has become somewhat of a cult phenomenon in North Florida leading Jacksonville to a couple of wins including a dramatic last-second victory in week four in Denver. The team further embraced Minshew by passing out some 30,000 replica mustaches at last week’s home game with the Saints, to like what the rookie sports as part of his image.
Minshew, however, had a tough time with the Saints defense throwing for only 14 of 29 for 163 yards without a TD and an INT. He’s expected to have an easier time with the 0-6 hapless Bengals this Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Jags have optimism that Foles will be able to spark them in the second half of the season.
Jacksonville landed Foles in free agency this past March of his Super Bowl winning performance two years ago and did so, by guaranteeing him $50 million on a four-year contract. That’s the richest deal that the Jags have never given to a quarterback in their 25-year franchise history.
And, they have hoped all along that his veteran leadership and downfield passing arm will provide their offensive some needed help.
Jaguars VP Coughlin on Ramsey trade- “time came to move on”
The Jaguars have made the decision to part with problem Pro Bowl defensive back Jalen Ramsey and Wednesday morning the team made its first statement about it.
Jacksonville VP of football Tom Coughlin released a statement through the team website and social media about the deal they made with the Rams for the disgruntled Ramsey:
Statement from Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin. pic.twitter.com/W3wdjinyOZ
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) October 16, 2019
As we wrote Tuesday night, Coughlin and Ramsey not seeing eye to eye basically forced a move to be made. However, the Jaguars should be credited, as they waited and got two number one picks, as well as a mid-round pick in return for a player that has previously been an All-Pro at his position.
The soap opera boiled over in week two, when Ramsey got into things on the sidelines with coach Doug Marrone over Marrone not challenging a completion to receiver DeAndre Hopkins, whom Ramsey had been covering.
As we had been told at that time Ramsey and Marrone and cleared the air. However, his bigger problem had been with Coughlin and a meeting they had after the Houston game led Ramsey to demand a trade. This as, Coughlin would ultimately be in charge of approving a long-term contract extension for Ramsey be on this year, and that wasn’t going to be likely.
The Jaguars and the Rams also completed a big trade a year ago when Jacksonville dealt away defensive end and former top five pick, Dante Fowler, for third and fifth round picks in return. Fowler went on to have a good year down the stretch in L.A. and ended up helping them make the Super Bowl.
Ramsey also comes to Hollywood at a bargain in the short term for the Rams, as he is only making the prorated remainder of his $2.4 million salary for this year.
The Rams and GM Les Snead can also decide to keep Ramsey for his fifth year option at $13.7 million for 2020.
And, the Rams cleared some salary-cap room, and at Ramsey’s position, when they traded defensive back Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens earlier on Tuesday. L.A. is in the “win now” mode, and not only did not have a first-round pick this past draft, but also do not have one in the next two drafts after the deal for Ramsey.
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