After Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone officially announced the switch to quarterback Nick Foles ahead of Gardner Minshew II on Tuesday, Jaguars.com got a chance to speak with two veteran players on the roster to discuss the switch and how it may change the team moving forward.
A captain of the team, Jaguars’ defensive lineman Calais Campbell agreed it was the right decision to make the switch to Foles, telling Jaguars.com, “Foles is a captain of the team too, I think he’s a great leader and I think he’s gonna give an opportunity to win a lot of games.”
Although the veteran defensive end embraces the move, he still was excited about what Minshew was able to bring to the table after being faced with such adversity. When Foles went down in week one, there were many questions surrounding the team. What would a rookie quarterback be able to provide? How would it affect the outcome of the season?
“Gardner steps in, and plays great and he allows us to be able to win a lot of ball games,” said Campbell. “A couple of games we let get away, it would have been nice to get all of those, but he played well enough to put us in position to win.”
The Jaguars went 4-4 under the leadership of their rookie quarterback. Minshew completed 188 out of 307 (61.2%) of his passes for 2,285 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Minshew broke multiple Jaguars’ franchise records including throwing for the most yards through the first nine career games of a Jaguars’ quarterback.
“I think a huge thing that this team is echoing,” Jaguars receiver Chris Conley told Jaguars.com. “So grateful for the effort — the play of Gardner Minshew. Of him coming out there, helping us win games and keep this season alive.”
Multiple times throughout the course of the season, Minshew was able to keep plays alive that typically would have gotten a lot of NFL quarterbacks in trouble. Against the Broncos, most notably, Minshew led a potential game-winning touchdown drive near the end of the game before needing to put the team in position to kick the game-winning field goal.
“Really, hes one of those guys that, when leaned on, got so much better over the course of the preseason and through those first games to put this offense in a position to be viable each week, and this team -- we’re not out of anything -- and a lot of that is due to the play of [Minshew].”
Minshew is not going anywhere, however, — while he may not be the one throwing the passes anymore, he will continue to help in the team’s quarterback room and with the offense as a whole, Conley says.
“As Nick Foles said, it’s not just one guy in the QB room that really makes it go — it’s the guys behind him being his eyes and his ears, helping him go in there and make decisions.”
"We're excited for the opportunity of him being back."— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) November 5, 2019
@_flight17_ discusses the quarterback decision. pic.twitter.com/DO94ygJBrS
Minshew has been electric for the team on the ground this season, one thing Conley says is the difference between the two signal-callers. “Things are really mobile with [Minshew] in there, a lot of plays made on the run. [Foles is] not quite as mobile as [Minshew].”
On the ground, Minshew was able to contribute 42 rushes for 235 yards. Foles, in his entire career, has accounted for 125 rushes for 367 yards. The two are completely different players outside of the pocket, but while Minshew might be the better scrambler, Foles does bring a different element to the Jaguars’ offense, Conley says.
“[Foles is] a big guy, and really likes to push the ball down field,” said Conley who was with the big-armed quarterback in Kansas City. “So I expect us to have to get our wind in a little bit of a different way, maybe not on scrambles, but a lot of deep balls and being able to affect coverage and stretch the field.”
Foles is more experienced than Minshew, and should not be as susceptible to newer coverages as Minshew has been in a few games this season. Foles has always been relied on as a big-armed quarterback, which does not necessarily mean he is a downfield passer, however combined with his ability to read a defense, there should be less missed opportunities.
“We’re excited for the opportunity of him being back in the huddle. It’s a guy that a lot of guys enjoy playing with.”