If nothing else, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II has always been open and honest in how he views himself as a football player on the field. After losing his starting job to veteran quarterback Nick Foles, he didn’t sulk in the locker room, or spit venom to the media, he was patient and humble.
That rang true on Wednesday when Minshew spoke in front of several members of the media for perhaps the last time in a group setting. At the very least until if — or when — Foles goes down with an injury and the rookie is able to prove himself yet again on the gridiron as he did for the past nine weeks — eight starts — of the season.
“I was disappointed a little bit, obviously,” Minshew told members of the media shortly after practice on Wednesday when asked about his reaction to the news he would be resuming his duties as a backup quarterback. “Because everybody wants to be that guy in the huddle. But if you told me at the beginning of the year that I’d get to play half the season and learn I’d say I’d take that deal 100 percent. I got a lot of good experience and mostly get to learn from one of the best dudes in the business.”
Experience is extremely important to young quarterbacks, and Minshew is no different. Making the most of his opportunities, Minshew completed 188 out of 307 (61.2%) of his throws for 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Winning the NFL’s Pepsi Rookie of the Week six out of the first nine weeks of the season, it is safe to say Minshew learned a lot.
The last time Minshew lost his starting job was during his junior year at East Carolina. After being named the starting quarterback going into the season he was pulled midway through the first game of the season. “I didn’t get my role back for awhile. Through that I learned a lot about myself, how to really lead, not just lead when it’s easy but lead when it’s hard.”
Learning to lead is something Minshew has continued to get better at over the years, even now with his teammate in Foles. The rookie quarterback says the biggest thing Foles taught him was to simply, “be yourself.” Minshew went on to say Foles is genuine and I “think guys see that and if you’re not like that people see through it.” These sentiments were echoed earlier on Wednesday by Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich.
Minshew will continue to assist Foles as much as he can. Whether it is throwing extra balls to receivers in practice or getting anyone ready, “I’m going to do it.”
Now as a backup, Minshew will have to learn from the sidelines, which he thinks will absolutely be beneficial. “There are so many things you notice when you take a step back and you’re not having to do everything full speed. Just watching I’m learning so much even today is the first day I’m doing that in practice in awhile and I’m seeing different things from different angles and it’s good.”
As a leader is wont to do, Foles praised Minshew’s ability on the field and was extremely complimentary of the rookie during his Wednesday press conference shortly after practice. “I’m proud of Gardner for everything he’s done. He’s a tremendous player. He’s been amazing in the QB room and I’ve really enjoyed watching him play and develop as a young player,” Foles said.
Foles knows that Minshew is only going to continue growing and he’s going to have a bright career in the NFL. Working with both Minshew and quarterback Josh Dobbs, Foles says, is extremely important to the team’s success in the quarterback room.
“It’s not talked about enough, is the guys that are in there, we go through film study, we go through preparation on the sidelines, going through everything together with Scott has been huge, so grateful for them.”
In the end, Minshew knows he has a long ways to go, but still feels his time playing in the NFL, and potentially for the Jaguars is far from over.
“I think I proved I can be a guy in this league for a long, long time,” Minshew said. “I think they believe that. And there’s other things we’re going to get better at so the next time I do get this opportunity I’ll be ready and I’ll be better and we’re all going to progress together.”