Minshew mania is more than just hype

Is Gardner Minshew the real deal?

Sixth round rookie quarterbacks aren’t supposed to make much of an impact. However when starting quarterback Nick Foles was injured during the Jacksonville Jaguars season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs few would’ve predicted the season that would follow from the former Washington State signal caller and the Minshew Mania it would create. 

By Alex Chinery

Minshew Mania swept across the nation. Fans copied the stars iconic facial hair and headwear options, while pro’s told ludicrous stories of locker room antics. However amongst the hype Minshew led the team to just a .500 record when starting. This has led some to question whether Minshew is the franchise player many perceive him to be. In this article I will demonstrate why Minshew is the real deal and how the Jaguars can build around him in 2020.

Ranking Minshew's Rookie Year

Overall, Minshew appeared in 14 games, starting 12 of those games. He threw for over 3000 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Minshew ranked 13th in the NFL for adjusted net yards per attempt and 8th in the NFL for interception %. Thats a lot of numbers and they need some context. To rank in the top 10 for interception % is very promising for a rookie. It was clear to anyone watching the Jaguars this season that Minshew could read the game like a pro from the very beginning. Coming from a very pass heavy college scheme meant that Minshew had seen more game reps throwing the ball than most rookies, which likely accelerated his development. Minshew limited the number of horrific decisions he made throughout the year, as such he didn’t negatively affect the offense on a large number of occasions. 

When looking at the top quarterbacks in the NFL, one thing stands out, they don’t throw interceptions. Players like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have made careers out of limiting mistakes whilst also making big plays. The number of big plays may be lower than the gunslingers of years past, but the number of mistakes are also dramatically lower. So far, Minshew fits this mould with his gameplay. Whether this trend can continue in the second year of his career will be a huge factor towards any future success Minshew has.

Only 21 Touchdowns?

Some of the chatter surrounding whether Minshew is a franchise guy has come from his perceived lack of touchdowns thrown. Minshew has a touchdown % of 4.5% ranking him 15th in the NFL last season. However, this number was slightly superior to Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. All of those players were first round picks and all of them were drafted much higher than Minshew. 

Minshew’s rookie season compares favourably to Jared Goff’s sophomore season (his first under Sean McVay). Goff threw slightly more touchdowns that season and a slightly higher % of his throws were touchdowns. However the weapons available to Goff that season were far better than those available for Minshew who couldn’t count on a mind like Sean McVay to scheme up open looks. 

Gardner Minshew

Getting Minshew Help is the Priority...

If Minshew is to succeed as a starting quarterback in the league then the Jaguars desperately need to get him some help on offense. Leonard Fournette has been a disappointment since being selected number 4 overall in 2016 and outside of DJ Chark the number two option in the passing game is Tyler Eifert, and it would be a miracle if he stayed healthy. 

On the offensive line second year right tackle Jawaan Taylor should be counted on to make a leap but the rest of the line is very patchy. In our perfect picks series my colleague Joshua Edwards had them taking Tristan Wirfs at pick 9; I love this fit, Wirfs can play anywhere on the line and could easily be a 10 year starter at the NFL level. If Wirfs is off the board, then another Andrew Thomas from Georgia is another option who could give Minshew a tackle he can count on to protect his blindside. 

The Jaguars must also make it a priority to generate a run game. Adding a back in the mid rounds to compete with Fournette for carries will be a relief for this offense. That back must also have better skills in the passing game than Fournette, in order to give Minshew another weapon on third down. 

New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is a great hire, he should provide Minshew with a solid scheme and offers good prospects for Minshew’s development. Gruden in combination with quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, who previously coached Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, should help Minshew take a step.

Minshew Mania - All Hype?

Looking back at his season, Minshew Mania wasn’t all hype. For a rookie who was thrust unprepared into a starting role, Gardner Minshew performed like a future franchise quarterback. Whilst year two will need to see some progress in key parts of his game, Minshew laid a solid foundation in his rookie season. The Jaguars need to attempt to build an infrastructure around Minshew on offense by fixing the offense line and picking up some weapons in the passing game. Without some significant investment, Minshew won’t succeed. Football is a team game and whilst a top quarterback gives you a great chance to win they need help around them. 

Alex Chinery

Head of Football Analytics

Alex is the head of football analytics for the touchdown. blurring the lines between film analysis and stats Alex aims to provide statistical insight that all fans can understand. For more, listen to the Seven Step Drop Podcast Available on all major podcast providers.


Image credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports & Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports