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Gardner Minshew ain’t tanking for Trevor Lawrence

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Gardner Minshew is a smart guy. He knows that the Jacksonville Jaguars are loaded up on draft picks for 2021. He knows that Trevor Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 overall pick next April. He knows that if he doesn’t play well, this team is no longer fully his.

And he’s playing his ass off through the first two weeks of the season.

Last week could be a fluke, right? Sure... he didn’t throw a single bad pass in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, but that was opening weekend after the weirdest offseason in modern NFL history. This week he’d be on the road against an opponent this team hadn’t beaten away since 2013.

Through the first few series things did not look good. He sailed a few passes and he was making bad reads. But then he got his feet under him and aside from taking a 20-yard sack, he only got better as the day went on. That deep ball to D.J. Chark seemed like flicking on a light switch, didn’t it?

Minshew went 27-for-39 for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns after that Chark pass, including 8-for-11 converted third downs.

He still needs to get better. Taking that 20-yard sack was abysmal. The pass batted at the line to end the game needs to be better. But Minshew isn’t just playing not to lose. He’s not simply playing well enough to make a quarterback in the first round a good question.

He’s playing lights out through the first two weeks. And he’s helping this front office look at other positions of need — defensive line, safety, cornerback, linebacker, and tight end — with all those draft picks next spring.