As the season comes ever-so-closer to an end, the Jaguars will have yet another major decision on their hands as they enter their week 13 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field. After trailing 25-0 at halftime, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone wanted to get a spark for the offense and benched the $88M-man quarterback Nick Foles in favor of rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II as a result.
After the game, Marrone remained non-committal on who would be starting for the team at quarterback.
“I haven’t spoken to them, and I always believe in doing things the right way,” Marrone said during his post-game press conference. “I’ve got to talk to them first. It’s obviously emotional right now and we’re really disappointed, so we’ll wait, and I’ll talk to them before any announcement comes out.”
Foles was named the team’s starting quarterback following the Jaguars’ week nine loss in London against the Houston Texans. Since then, Foles has completed 72 out of 109 of his passes (66%) for 666 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and two lost fumbles while the Jaguars have dropped four straight games.
On the first of three turnovers committed against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Foles was nudged and threw an ill-advised interception to Buccaneers rookie linebacker Devin White. The first two turnovers were not completely Foles’ fault, Marrone says. However, the third turnover — second fumble —, should not have occurred.
“The first one, he gets hit as he was releasing the ball on the backside. The second one, the right tackle gets beat and it’s a strip-sack. The third one, in my opinion, he should have been able to hold onto because he saw the guy coming on the back. That’s how I saw those three turnovers.”
During the second half, rookie quarterback Minshew II lit a small fire under the Jaguars offense as the team scored 11 points, bringing the Buccaneers lead to to only 14 before an untimely interception at the goal line ended any hopes for a comeback. Completing 16 of 27 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a late lost fumble, Minshew seemed to bring life to a dying offense.
Marrone says it was difficult to bench Foles prior to halftime as the team was already trailing by 25, needing a score, the decision was made to continue with Foles.
“I was just trying to get a score, knowing that we were going to get the ball back, so I really was just focusing on trying to get a score to get this game going, thinking if we score here before the half and get the ball to start the second half and score again, we can get ourselves back in this game.”
The Jaguars have prepared Minshew to maintain his development throughout the season. Rather than assigning no repetitions in practice to the rookie quarterback after his benching, Marrone and the Jaguars’ coaching staff assigned a 7 on 7 period specifically for Minshew.
“We’ve been working with him extra. We liked him, like I said before, so we got him extra work after practice working on the things that he needs to improve on.”
After the game, both quarterbacks spoke to the media, and both quarterbacks were ultimately disappointed with the outcome — understandably.
“This is not an easy game and it’s a tough situation,” Foles said after the game on Sunday regarding his tough game. “But I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.”
During the second quarter, loud boos and chants for Minshew were heard throughout TIAA Bank Field.
#Jaguars fans are chanting for Gardner Minshew after Nick Foles has two turnovers in two drives. pic.twitter.com/RJaSvxidtC— Big Minshew Country (@BigCatCountry) December 1, 2019
Foles called it a “tough part of the game” after the game on Sunday. “It’ll test you when you’re hearing that and ultimately you want what’s best for your team and to keep moving forward. Of course, there were some mistakes made and that’s just part of it. I understand this game, I understand that part of this game. I’ve been a part of it, but I’ve also been a part of turning things around.”
While he was encouraged, and appreciates the fans, Minshew II did not appreciate the boos for his teammate during the first half of the game.
“One thing I didn’t appreciate was a lot of the booing today,” Minshew II said. “You have guys who put their hearts out there every play, every game. Nobody deserves that. I hated how that was, but I’m also super appreciative of the support I get from the fans.”
Minshew II has been through this before. During college the rookie quarterback was benched and booed off the field at East Carolina. It’s tough, he says.
“I’ve been booed off the field at ECU and it’s not a place anybody should have to be in. There’s so much love in that room, we all support each other and to see that was absolutely brutal. I hate that for him. In the same vein, all he wants is to win, all I want is to win and whoever’s out there, [that] is what we’re going to try to do.”
Ultimately, Minshew II should be the Jaguars’ starting quarterback moving forward. Since taking over, the offense has progressively gotten worse. Since being named the starting quarterback, the Jaguars offense has scored seven points, three points, and 0 points under Foles, a damning example of ineptitude on offense.
With Minshew II, the Jaguars will at least have a quarterback which is mobile, and understands how and when to get the ball out of his hands quickly enough to take the reigns. Regardless, the decision will be made by Marrone later this week, and by the sound of it, it would not be a shock for the rookie to regain his starting role for the remainder of the season.