Gardner Minshew as abysmal last week in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Sub-50 percent accuracy.
5.6 yards per attempt.
7 pass deflections compared to just 14 completions.
1 interception that we can justifiably say was his fault.
It was his “rookie game” and he knows it:
“Yeah it was a tough day,” Minshew said shortly after the game. “They are a good team. I missed some balls that I can’t miss. They played good coverage at times and got after us up front at times. We’ll go look at the film and figure out what we need to fix ... I was off. We’re going to get that fixed.”
But that hasn’t changed my opinion of Minshew and it shouldn’t change yours.
He’s played six games with largely no practice reps this offseason and he’s won Rookie of the Week four times so far. He’s got good odds to win NFL Rookie of the Year. And even with the disaster of a game that was last Sunday, he’s arguably one of the most productive rookies in the league. That’s astounding for a sixth round pick. Heck, if we’d have picked him in the first round and he was playing like he has, I’d still be satisfied.
In short, he’s showing he has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback.
But if he is to take that next step, if he is to walk towards being The Guy that Jaguars fans have begged for over the past 15 years, he needs to have a good game this week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Franchise quarterbacks have bad games, but what sets them apart is how quickly they bounce back. And the table is set for Minshew — and the rest of the Jaguars offense — to have a big day on Sunday.
The Bengals are winless, but more than that is how they got there:
26th in total offense.
32nd in rushing yards per game.
32nd in rushing yards allowed per game.
26th in yards per attempt.
30th in sacks allowed.
27th in turnovers.
29th in points per game.
26th in points allowed per game.
28th in turnover differential.
The Bengals will be without their top two starting cornerbacks due to injury. Their left tackle and his backup are on the injury report. Their starting right guard is doubtful. Their starting defensive end is questionable. Even if the Bengals tried to play the same defensive scheme as the Saints — contain Minshew in the pocket and force him to throw away from DJ Chark — it won’t work. They don’t have the talent to execute it.
If Minshew can be a good quarterback, he’ll keep the game close and set us up for a four-point victory on the road.
But if Minshew is the quarterback we eventually build our franchise around, this will be one of the games we point back to a decade from now as to how we knew this guy was different.