The Jacksonville Jaguars have a decision to make.
Nick Foles, the 88 million dollar man, is cleared to start playing after the bye week. Gardner Minshew has set the league on fire and set countless NFL rookie records.
Doug Marrone is an insightful, critically thinking head coach and offered his thoughts on the choice he has to make in his postgame last night:
“[New York Post columnist] Mark Cannizzaro today was here earlier walking around the hallway. For those who don’t know, Mark was there my first time in the NFL. He was a beat writer for the Jets. He’s in the hallway, and I always say it, they can’t help himself. [Media members] are great people. You guys are great people, but when you have an opportunity, you just can’t help yourself. So, we’re in the hallway and he asks me the same question. ‘Hey, what are you going to do?’ I told Mark, I got this question in a press conference and I know that people who don’t know me, it’s hard for them to believe, but why would I go through scenarios in my mind and waste my time with scenarios when I have to get ready for another game. This is what I told him. You can ask him, and he’ll tell you. I said, ‘If we didn’t have a bye after the Texans game, I think somewhere along the line next week, I would start going through that in my mind.’ Does that make sense to everyone? Because I’m going to have to make a decision, but since we have the bye, there’s so many things that can happen between now and then, whether injuries come into play with either quarterback or whatever may happen, so for me, I’m not going to waste my team. And that’s probably my strength and my weakness. My strength is I can focus on something, but my weakness might be down the road, if you don’t see this thing coming. To answer your question, I really haven’t thought about it. The reason why is because I don’t have to, and I don’t want to. I’ll deal with it when it happens. And that’s the truth. Everything I say is the truth.”
“I’m going to have to make a decision.”
“I really haven’t thought about it.”
Those are the two most important things Marrone dropped in his answer.
First, it’s his decision. If we’re to take Marrone at his word, the front office may offer input but it’s ultimately his call.
Second, he hasn’t thought about it because (and I’m inferring my own subtext underneath the quote) Minshew has played so far beyond expectations that the team is where it likely would be after eight games even if Foles had never gotten hurt.
Both of those add up to this being a no-brainer. You stick with Minshew.
Why would you disrupt the momentum of your season? Why would you shake up the locker room? Why would you pause the young quarterback’s development? Why would you take a risk on an unknown? Why would you take a kid out who is setting NFL record after NFL record?
Minshew is arguably the most impressive rookie quarterback in the NFL. But for the sake of argument, let’s not think of him as a rookie. Let’s grade him among his peers. How is he as an NFL quarterback, regardless of age or experience?
247.0 yards per game, better than Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo.
7.34 adjusted yards per attempt, better than Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.
0.8% interception rate, on par with Aaron Rodgers and Teddy Bridgewater.
5.0% touchdown rate, on par with Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson.
2 fourth-quarter comebacks, same as Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford.
In nearly every statistical category, Minshew is holding his own against young and old alike — all without an offseason of preparation. He’s putting together an Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Why on earth would you bench him?
From a short-term perspective, he gives you the best opportunity to win games this season.
From a long-term perspective, he gives you a bright future at the most important position in professional sports.
I’m trying to find a reason to make Foles the starter once again and I can’t do it. Minshew is throwing fewer interceptions less often than Foles has in his career. He’s throwing more touchdowns more often. He’s passing for more yards, running for more yards, and getting nearly 1.5 yards more attempt.
If the Jaguars put Foles back into the starting lineup, they are fools. And if you think Minshew should be benched you’re a fool too.