The Jaguars have been completely counted out this season; many feel as though they’re in first place for the No. 1 overall pick already. However, the team and its starting quarterback, Gardner Minshew II will only allow it to fuel them as they head into this upcoming season.
In speaking to the local media for the first time in months, Minshew II appeared as confident as ever, answering many of the questions in a very matter-of-fact manner, and appearing just as one would expect a starting quarterback in the NFL to appear - confident.
Over the past several months, the Jaguars have been near the bottom in all power rankings, and have even been placed in a period in which the team is expected to lose nearly every single game, counted as the underdog in all 16 regular season games by betonline.ag.
“I think it should put a chip on everybody’s shoulder on our team, know being kind of counted out like that,” Minshew told the local media on Thursday when asked about the external criticism of the team.
“I think we do have a lot to prove, prove that we are not what anybody says about us, the only people that really know, the only peoples whose opinions matter is who is in that huddle, who is on that team and I think we are going to set those expectations for ourselves and not worry about what anybody else has to say about us.”
Minshew II has become one of the leaders within the Jaguars’ offense throughout the offseason. Multiple players and coaches, including tight end Tyler Eifert, running back Chris Thompson and, most recently, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden have complimented the quarterback for how he’s handled things during this very unorthodox offseason.
“He’s accurate, he’s tough and obviously he’s a great leader so he’s got the intangibles you want in a quarterback.” Gruden said earlier this week. “Now he’s got to get to know the team, get to know the offense a little bit so we can all gel together.”
Gruden also spoke on the quarterback’s ability to make plays from both inside and outside of the pocket.
Last season, Minshew was known for his off-schedule plays made. Routinely escaping the pocket and making a play on the run, he was able to create when he needed to - something many quarterbacks in the NFL have struggled with at times.
The one shortfall, however, was his ball security, particularly early on in the season. On the year, Minshew fumbled the football 13 times, tied for the fourth-most in the NFL in 2019. However, as the season progressed so did Minshew’s habits, particularly knowing when to go for the big play, and when to simply let the play occur naturally.
“I think the biggest thing was just ball security and the fumbles that come with that,” Minshew said when asked about finding the balance last season about when to stay in the pocket or when to escape.
“I think when I came back in I did a little bit [of a] better job. And just having that awareness, you know, when to call a play dead, when to keep pushing, try to make the big play. You know, it’s a credit to the coaches around me, teach me up. And, you know, I think that’s something I’ll just continue to strive for and find that balance.
Minshew has trained throughout the offseason, weighing in at about 222-225 pounds now after being up to 230 after his rookie season, he told the media on Thursday, and appears to be heading in the right direction, doing everything necessary to put he and his team in a position to win next season.