Gardner Minshew is becoming the leader the Jacksonville Jaguars need him to be in 2020.
While the team may be in a virtual offseason program at the moment, there has still been time for several players to connect with one another, and for some, like Minshew, creating a foundation for the upcoming season through their leadership.
After assuming the starting quarterback role in 2019, taking the team to a 6-6 record over 12 starts, Minshew has become a sort of polarizing figure among fans and pundits, none sure exactly where to place him among the quarterback hierarchy.
However, none of that matters until the team actually suits up this year. In the meantime, Minshew is already integrating himself back within the team, seemingly picking up where he left off.
In speaking to the local Jacksonville media on Thursday of last week, tight end Tyler Eifert offered his first impressions regarding his new teammate, noting that Minshew is an “awesome dude”, and indicating he’s spoken with the team’s signal-caller on the phone a couple of times already.
“We are doing some group stuff and trying to learn the offense. I have not watched a lot of tape on him, but obviously I saw last year with the mania going on. He seems like a guy that the offense wants to rally behind,” said Eifert. “He seems like he is kind of a fearless leader and you need that when you are on the field and the bullets are flying and things are not going your way. You need that kind of guy that is going to take charge of the huddle and be like, ‘We got this.’ I think it will be fun to see his growth from Year 1 to Year 2 and I’m excited to get to work with him.”
Minshew demonstrated his fearlessness several times last season, bringing the team back from a late deficit three times last season against Denver, Cincinnati, and Oakland. Two of those comebacks - Denver and Oakland -, can be attributed directly to the plays Minshew made late in the fourth quarter of those contests.
The Jaguars boast one of the brightest quarterback rooms in the NFL, in terms of practical intelligence at least. Prior to the draft, Minshew scored a 42 on the NFL’s proctored wonderlic exam, the second-highest in his class to Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley. The team’s current backup quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, while he only scored a 29 on the same exam, has a degree in Aerospace Engineering, an actual rocket scientist.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone spoke highly of the two quarterbacks, joking on Friday about a particular contest the quarterback room could win among any of the NFL’s quarterback rooms.
“Hey listen we’ll challenge any team in the league to Jeopardy with our quarterbacks,” said Marrone. “We feel pretty damn confident. But that’s the problem. We’re not playing Jeopardy. We gotta make sure that those equal to what they do out on the field, you know.”
At the end of the day, what occurs on the field is what will make or break the Jaguars moving forward. With Minshew, the team feels confident in his abilities, and it appears he is taking the starting role in stride, making sure his voice is heard.
“I think Gardner’s obviously reached out, spoken to a lot of players and I think a lot of our players are on group text and trying to create that chemistry that we talked about before which is difficult to do in a virtual setting,” Marrone said. “So we have some programs and quizzes, some things that we do with the players and Gardner has been doing a good job of keeping everybody involved with that.”