For the Jacksonville Jaguars, this year’s offense will take on an entirely new look. With the addition of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, that should be expected. How long it takes to get out of “diapers”, as Gruden noted to reporters just over a week ago, is yet to be known, however, it is certainly heading in the right direction, led by second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II.
Over the past few days of practice, Minshew has taken on a seemingly new-found confidence, especially when throwing deep. While, certainly, Minshew has plenty of room to grow, his handle of the offense with very little on-field work throughout the offseason, is something to take note of.
“[I’m] getting a lot more comfortable, not only in the offense but with the guys around me,” Minshew told reporters on Friday.
On Thursday, the Jaguars ran mostly situational, red zone drills - a facet of the offense that needed to be improve in 2020. While the team had a few bumps in the beginning, eventually everything appeared to start clicking. Minshew and the Jaguars offense would throw multiple touchdowns on the day, marking the best offensive performance of training camp this year.
“A lot of those touchdowns are just from giving our guys chances to make plays and they make the plays for me. You know, DJ [Chark Jr.] has been great, James O’Shaughnessy had some big plays. We had a bunch of guys really step up yesterday and really throughout the whole camp. And I think it’s just, more than anything, it’s just us getting on the same page and putting trust in each other.”
The Jaguars’ offense threw a dozen touchdowns during the drills, with Minshew throwing seven of the 12, as tracked by 1010XL’s Hays Carlyon.
#Jaguars receiving TDs that I saw today in Red Zone work: Chark (3), O'Shaughnessy (3), Chris Thompson, Dede, Conley, Josh Hammond, Michael Walker and Tyler Davis. Minshew threw 7, Glennon 3 and Luton 2. A Dominating Dozen.— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) August 20, 2020
Minshew’s comfortability within the offense also comes from the guidance of Gruden and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo — a room which Minshew appears to believe is a great place to brainstorm.
“A lot of times we have both Coach McAdoo and Coach Gruden in the meetings and both of them have so much experience,” Minshew said. “You know, it’s fun, those conversations as we’re kind of talking through things. They both come with different perspectives, but eventually we all get to the same point, trying to just make us better.
“We’ve got freaking mad scientists in there. It’s—it gets pretty fun.”
The quarterback has to be the leader of the offense; they must have a complete grasp and control of the offense, while his teammates have to have an understanding, it is the quarterback’s duty to be ahead of the curve, and Minshew appears to have taken that role in stride, at least, according McAdoo.
“He’s a guy that’s very dedicated to football, not just the football part of things,” McAdoo told reporters on Friday.
“But if you take a look at how he’s taken care of his body in the offseason; he’s been committed there. He’s done a great job studying the offense, not just when coaches are in the room with him or in the virtual meetings with him, but he’s taken the bull by the horns studying it and then getting the other players kind of going, doing some walk-throughs and things like that, so that’s been great.”
Those leadership traits will certainly be necessary if the Jaguars want to have a successful season this year.
Last season, Minshew took the Jaguars to a 6-6 record in 12 starts, completing 285 out fo 470 (60.6%) of his passes for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the then-rookie quarterback, however. On the year, Minshew fumbled the football 13 total times, among the most in the NFL. While much of that was corrected by season’s end, ball security has been a major focus of what Minshew is working to correct.
“The last thing is he’s hungry. He wants to get better, not just in the system, but he wants to get better fundamentally. He wants to keep continuing to improve each and every day, just little things,” said McAdoo. “If we can get better at one thing each and every day, then he’s got a chance to stack those successes, move him forward, and improve a big chunk of his game as you take it to the end of the season. We have to keep improving.”
As training camp continues, the Jaguars, and their offense, will go through rough patches — it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows. For now, however, the team’s offense has looked better. The tests will continue now throughout training camp and into the regular season, when the real tests begin.
“He’s an accurate player and he makes the game fun. It’s definitely not a death march with Gardner and those kinds of things make it fun for me. Like I told you before, he’s a fun player to coach.”