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Nick Foles vs. Gardner Minshew: Who should the Jaguars have named the starter?

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Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Throughout the bye week, we’re going to discuss some important questions surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars with the help of John Shipley over at JaguarMaven.

We just heard that Nick Foles has been named the starting quarterback. Initially, Marrone said he would take the week and think about it while the players were on the bye week, but it seemed like an easy decision after Gardner Minshew II’s day against the Houston Texans in London.

In short, Foles is the 88 million dollar man, but Minshew looks to be the future. There were pros and cons to either one starting, so let’s answer our first question:

Who should the Jaguars have named the starting quarterback?

Ryan Day: The way I think about it is it’s not even a comparison of the two, it’s thinking if Foles wasn’t even in Jacksonville. If we didn’t have Foles, and Minshew was a higher round draft pick, would you even consider benching him? No. You’d be pumped at a guy who’s won 6/9 (nice) Rookie of the Week Awards. He’s a rookie. He’ll have his games against the New Orleans Saints or the Houston Texans. But there wouldn’t be a question as to if he’s the future.

John Shipley: Will they and should they start Nick Foles are two very different questions, and I’ve struggled with separating the two at times. As for will they, the beat reporter side of me always said Foles would certainly get the job back because Doug Marrone needs to win games to keep his job. As for should they, I think you have to look at a few different things. For one, the offense has been at its best when Minshew has been able to create with his legs. It had both mitigated an inconsistent offensive line while also helping a mediocre receivers group (outside of DJ Chark) make plays. Minshew has also had the hot hand all the way up until this week. But with Foles, I’ve still got to be sold on the “should he” part.

Ryan Day: Is there anything specifically Foles could do to, I guess, win you over?

John Shipley: I am not sure how much I have to be won over, or if it takes anything other than Foles simply playing like a steady presence behind center. While I partially lean Minshew because of how I think he fits with the offense and its personnel around him, I am also well aware that he will have a fair share of rookie moments. Foles coming in and producing when the offensive line gets shaky is one thing I do think you could point to as something that would hammer home the fact that he should start.

Ryan Day: Can Minshew meaningfully develop as an NFL quarterback if he’s not given practice reps or if the front office never fully commits to building the right type of team around him? Or are we just delaying his development? There are anomalies, like Aaron Rodgers sitting for three years with the Green Bay Packers. But it just seems the right type of growth is going to come when you go all in with a guy — like what the Baltimore Ravens have done with Lamar Jackson.

John Shipley: With a guy like Minshew, who has shown he can come off of the bench cold and produce with limited reps, I think you can still get some solid play out of him. It just might not really progress and get into a constant groove like it could otherwise (see Rodgers once he was given the reigns and grew in the role). That’s definitely the argument for starting young quarterbacks, but Minshew is the rare example of a young quarterback with potential who wasn’t ever thought of as a starting option beforehand, so this is a rare case.

Ryan Day: Sigh… why did this conversation make me feel like starting Foles is the right move? *ducks*

John Shipley: Because in the viewpoint of “the Jaguars need to win games right now” it might be? It might also not be because he is, like we’ve said, a historically streaky quarterback. Basically the best thing for Minshew, and maybe the best thing for the team in the long-term future, is different from what the best thing might be for decision makers right now. That is why I think this debate has been as heated as it has been over the last few weeks, too.

Part 1: Who should the Jaguars have named their starting quarterback?

Part 2: Let’s predict some win-loss records with either quarterback!

Part 3: Is there a trade market for Nick Foles in 2020?

You can follow John Shipley at @_John_Shipley and read his work on Sports Illustrated’s JaguarMaven.