This week, we’re sitting down with Andrew Potter from Football Outsiders to talk about the Jacksonville Jaguars and how they think they’ll do this season. How can they improve their win-loss record? Will their run defense get gashed up and down the field? What is Jay Gruden’s impact on Gardner Minshew and the offense in general.
Let’s get started...
In practical terms, how will new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden help Gardner Minshew the most? Are there any areas where he’ll hamper Minshew’s development or production?
Realistically, Minshew needs quite a lot of help from his coaching staff if he is to develop beyond the occasional off-script highlight or broken play into a consistent, every-down passer.
Gruden will first look to build around the existing foundation of a strong run game — his Washington teams ranked in the top six in first-down run rate in each of the past three seasons. Gruden was typically below average in play-action use, but he will give his young quarterback simple reads and involve his backs and tight ends heavily as pass targets — look for at least 150 targets to those players.
He’ll run a lot of three-receiver sets: his teams over the past three years have always run at least 66% of plays from 11 personnel. If he finds a slot receiver he trusts, he’ll happily target that spot over and over until the other team shows they can stop it.
Gruden will scheme players open for Minshew, so it’s up to the quarterback to make the right reads and find the open man. The quarterbacks he’s had in Washington since Alex Smith broke his leg were mostly very limited passers — Colt McCoy, Josh Johnson, Case Keenum, Mark Sanchez, and rookie Dwayne Haskins — and Gruden got some success out of most of those guys.
If there’s one criticism of his time in Washington, it’s that the only quarterback he’s had who really developed into much was Kirk Cousins, and Cousins first came to the fore under the Shanahans. He’s not going to turn Minshew into Kyler Murray, but Case Keenum-level performance is roughly in line with the type and quality of player Minshew is right now. If Gruden can get that performance level from Minshew consistently, that may not live up to the hype but it should still be considered pretty successful for a sixth-round pick.
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