In order to learn more about Philly’s new quarterback, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Jacksonville Jaguars perspective on Minshew. So, I reached out to good friend Ryan O’Bleness (@ryanobleness) of Big Cat Country and here’s what he had to say.
1 - Can you recap Minshew’s career with the Jags?
Minshew was drafted out of Washington State in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by then general manager Dave Caldwell (who of course is now with the Eagles as a personnel executive) and head coach Doug Marrone (who, like Caldwell, was fired at the end of the 2020 season). Minshew was forced into NFL action right away as a rookie, as Nick Foles (yet another Philadelphia connection) — who was signed to a large contract in the 2019 offseason — broke his collarbone in the opening week of that season against the Kansas City Chiefs. Minshew entered the game and really impressed, completing 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Minshew would go on to play well in the next few games, which of course led to the “Minshew Mania” phase with the fans and national media. Eventually, Foles recovered from his injury, but Minshew, while still making some rookie mistakes, was clearly out-playing Foles and eventually won the full-time starting gig.
Foles was traded to the Chicago Bears in the 2020 offseason and it was Minshew’s team at that point, as he was the unquestioned starter. Unfortunately, 2020 was a disastrous year for a very young Jaguars team. After beating the Indianapolis Colts in the first game of the season, the Jaguars would lose 15 straight games. Minshew struggled with consistency and injuries, and lost the coaching staff’s trust when he failed to report a thumb injury until weeks after it initially happened. The Jaguars then used a carousel of quarterbacks between Minshew, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton. Eventually, it became apparent that Minshew wasn’t the right quarterback to lead the team, and new head coach Urban Meyer and the Jaguars drafted Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson with the No.1 overall pick.
Minshew finished his time in Jacksonville with a very respectable stat line of a 62.9 completion percentage, 5,530 yards, 37 touchdown passes and just 11 interceptions in 23 career games (20 starts). He also had nearly 500 yards rushing and an additional score.
2 - How do Jags fans feel about this trade? Right decision to deal him? Okay with the return?
The whole saga with Minshew is a bit puzzling. Meyer has claimed throughout training camp that Minshew and Lawrence were in a quarterback “competition” all offseason long. Meyer said that Minshew is a “warrior competitor” and earned his respect, which I don’t doubt at all, because Minshew is the ultimate competitor. Meyer finally officially announced Lawrence as the team’s starter just last week. But it was never really a competition, so the staff essentially cut Lawrence’s practice reps in half, still giving the other half to Minshew, and then the team ended up trading Minshew for just a conditional late-round pick. It would have been more beneficial to just give all of those reps to Lawrence for his development, but I digress.
It was always going to be Lawrence’s team from the moment he was drafted, so Minshew was expendable. I can’t speak for the whole fan base, but I personally would have liked to see Minshew stick around as a high-quality backup to Lawrence. With that said, I think it also made sense for Meyer and company to take what they could get for Minshew now, even if it was just a sixth-round/conditional fifth-round pick, which isn’t a great return in my opinion. I think this is a great high reward/low risk move for the Eagles.
3 - What are his strengths?
As mentioned, Minshew’s competitiveness and spirit are pretty much second to none. He wants to be a starter and when he is on that field, he is going to give you his best effort every rep. He makes a lot of plays with his feet, and he is able to move well in the pocket and extend plays. He is more mobile and elusive than you may think. Minshew is an incredibly hard-worker and his new teammates in Philadelphia are probably going to love him.
While his throws are sometimes hit or miss, he is fairly accurate, especially on short or intermediate routes. He completed over 66 percent of his passes in 2020, and about 63 percent of his passes throughout his career. According to Sports Info Solutions, 260 of Minshew’s 327 attempts in 2020 were “catchable” (almost 80 percent), while 231 passes were considered “on-target” (70.6 percent).
The most electric play of the Gardner Minshew Era… ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/12hUK74JVh— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) August 28, 2021
4 - What are his weaknesses?
He can be a bit reckless with his health. As mentioned, he failed to report his injured thumb until weeks after the fact. He also intentionally tried to break his own hand in college in order to play as much football as possible by getting a medical redshirt and being able to get extra eligibility — this is a pretty wild story.
He isn’t as effective when teams force him to play “in a phone booth,” in the pocket where he can’t create plays with his feet. He also often held onto the football too long and took unnecessary sacks ,and fumbled the ball way too often. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, either, but he has improved there.
5 - What’s a reasonable expectation for him moving forward? Is he a solid No. 2 and nothing more?
I think for right now, Minshew’s best role is probably as a No. 2 quarterback — and he should be considered as one of the top backup quarterbacks in the league. With that said, he has proven plenty of times that he is capable of starting at the NFL level. Keep in mind, he didn’t have much talent around him to work with in Jacksonville, and in the right system, with the right personnel and coaches to work with, I would not rule out Minshew becoming a starter again one day. He is definitely going to earn respect from his coaches and teammates, and Meyer was certainly impressed by him...just not enough to beat out Lawrence.
I am not sure if Minshew will take over the starting job from Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. My gut feeling says no, but I haven’t seen enough of Hurts to make that judgement. But I can almost guarantee Minshew is going to push Hurts and Joe Flacco, and he will raise their competition levels at the very least.
6 - Seems like there’s a lot to know about him off the field. What can you tell us about that?
As mentioned, Minshew is an eccentric personality. From rocking absurd mullets and outfits; to trying to break his own hand; to almost being named “Beowulf;” to nearly playing college football at Alabama, but instead going to play for Mike Leach at Washington State; to working out in nothing but a jockstrap...honestly the stories regarding Minshew are endless, and all are equally ridiculous or intriguing. The journey has been a strange one for Minshew, who began his college career at Northwest Mississippi Community College before transferring to East Carolina and eventually Washington State.
The main thing to take away is that he is an extreme competitor and a great teammate. I do believe Jaguars fans will have mostly fond memories of Minshew Mania, outside of all of the losing...but we’re used to that anyway.
BLG’s take: Minshew is a fun, low-cost addition. He’ll be the No. 3 quarterback this year with potential to move up the depth chart should Jalen Hurts and/or Joe Flacco really struggle or get hurt. Minshew will likely be the No. 2 guy in 2022. Perhaps he can be a long-term backup for the Eagles if he’s willing to sign an extension in that role. Or maybe he moves on and has a journeyman career as the NFL’s new Ryan Fitzpatrick.