In years past after Jacksonville Jaguars losses, I’m usually a little annoyed. I rattle off about a dozen key moments in my head — a sack, an untimely turnover, a blown call — and it sticks with me through to about the Sunday night game. Then Monday morning, I come into work and go back and forth between writing up recap articles and doing actual work for the job that pays my mortgage, all the while recycling those dozen or so moments and feeling a bit of sting in the back of my brain.
Yesterday was... different. I couldn’t quite articulate it at the time, but I was not unhappy about it. It didn’t feel like a win, but it certainly didn’t feel like one of the countless losses I’ve watched over the past decade or so when defeat was an inevitability by the second quarter or so.
And as I unthinkingly started looking over the postgame quotes, head coach Doug Marrone articulated why I didn’t feel so sullen yesterday:
“You feel like you always have a chance when he’s in there.”
I cannot begin to tell you how different — how deeply satisfying — it feels to finally have a quarterback in Gardner Minshew where you do not feel out of the game no matter the scoreline.
Case in point: Brian Burns got a strip-sack and returned the ball 56 yards to put his team up 21-7. With literally any other quarterback this franchise has had the audacity of trotting out dating back to David Garrard, a 14-point deficit on the road would have seemed insurmountable. I can vividly remember writing up postgame recaps in the third quarter of games where we were only down by a touchdown because I just knew.
But yesterday? I always felt like we had a chance when he was in there.
And this isn’t just about yesterday.
Look at our Week 2 game against the Houston Texans. The offense had been stymied all game and when the final seconds were counting down, Minshew engineered a drive that put us within inches of a victory.
Or what about last week on the road against the Denver Broncos? That last second field goal drive was a work of art.
It looks nearly supernatural the way an offense can transform with a guy under center who just knows what he’s doing. But it’s more than that. Minshew is more than capable, he is confirmed good and the mistakes — trying to do too much in the pocket, not taking care of the ball around defenders — are rookie mistakes that can (and will) get ironed out. These are far more easily fixable errors than not making the right reads and throwing a bonehead interception, of which Minshew has not yet done this season. (His lone interception came off a bobbled pass by Leonard Fournette.)
Call it whatever you like — moral victory, silver lining — I don’t care. The Jaguars look to have their long-term answer at quarterback who always gives you a chance when he’s in there.
And even though we’re sitting at 2-3, I am not unhappy about it.