The case for a starting job for the lovable, Mustache brandishing QB.
Minshew’s Time in Jacksonville
It seems as if Gardner Minshew’s days in Jacksonville will be coming to an end with the drafting of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at first overall. The Jags seem to have found their franchise QB, and Minshew’s future with the team is unclear.
Minshew, despite some fairly impressive stats without great weapons, lead the Jags to a 1-15 record last season. Minshew missed 7 games due to injury in his throwing hand he suffered week 5 against Houston that he mistook as a slow healing bruise and coaching decisions, with the staff opting to start Mike Glennon after he healed, in an attempt to tank for Trevor.
However, in his 9 starts with the team Minshew’s stats were something to take note of. He posted 2,259 passing yards, 16 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions, a 66.1 completion percentage, and a respectable 95.9 passer rating. Doing some quick math, this means Minshew was on pace for a 4000+ yard, 27 TD and 9 picks which is a pretty impressive projection given the mess that is Jacksonville. On top of that, at 95.9, Minshew posted a better passer rating than Kyler Murray (AZ), Ben Roethlisberger (PIT), Matt Ryan (ATL) and Jared Goff (LAR), despite having far fewer weapons on the offensive side of the ball than his peers.
The stats are impressive, and while the Jags record certainly isn’t, in Minshew’s 9 starts, he faced 3 top ten defenses, and faced top 10 offenses 4 times while his defense ranked 2nd worst in the league behind Detroit. A tough schedule, combined with a frankly pitiful defense and a lackluster offense whose only bright spots were Minshew, undrafted running back James Robinson, and WR DJ Chark it’s no wonder why the Jags performed so poorly.
Potential Landing Spots
At just 24, Minshew’s capability as a starter, solid stats, and his next to nothing cap hit ($897,271) makes him a lucrative trade target for QB needy teams. As far as trade packages for the third year quarterback go, there aren’t that many landing spots after the draft. My personal perfect destination was Chicago. Chicago is one quarterback from a deep playoff run, and assuming Nagy wouldn’t completely botch the QB situation again, Minshew would have thrived in the west coast, mostly short passing system the Bears run. We already know Minshew is better than Foles, because he took the veteran QB’s job in Jacksonville once Minshew Mania took over due to a Foles’ collarbone injury. However with the drafting of Justin Fields this year, it’s time to explore other options
1. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons could do to get younger at QB; Matt Ryan is 35 and isn’t aging nearly as gracefully as Rodgers or Brady. Instead of grabbing a QB with one of their inevitably high draft picks next year, they could target a stud offensive lineman, and swap a later pick for Minshew this season to allow him to learn under Ryan. Allowing Minshew to utilize Kyle Pitts, Calvin Ridley and whatever other weapons the Atlanta front office could acquire for Minshew if they dump Ryan’s contract. Minshew is still on his 6th round contract, so they’d be getting him for peanuts while also having a guy who could step into that offense and succeed whenever they’re ready for him to be a long term starter while they send Matty Ice to finish his career elsewhere.
2. New Orleans Saints
A QB room with Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, and Ian Book is one that could use almost an upgrade. Jameis is on his trial run this year, and while I wish him the best, I don’t see him panning out. Taysom Hill, as much as football fans love him, is not a long term Quarterback for the saints. He’s 30 years old, and hasn’t proven to be a starting QB. Ian Book, though it pains me to say this as a Notre Dame fan, isn’t the answer either. He has a weaker arm than Minshew and none of the swagger that Minshew does, and while he could be a solid backup, he wont be leading the Saints very far. Minshew’s play style is very similar to Bree’s, and with the Saints in cap room hell, a cheap starter in Minshew could be their answer to a deep playoff run.
3. Carolina Panthers
The Sam Darnold experiment begins anew in Carolina. This season will be the test to see if the damage done by Adam Gase can be undone, and if the worst comes to be true Minshew is a viable option to step in to be the signal caller. He would be an immediate upgrade over current QB2 PJ Walker, and carry less of a cap hit. The limitation in arm strength from Minshew would be supplemented by a star studded cast at WR surrounding him, and a healthy CMC. In a division as competitive as the NFC south, you need confidence in your ability at QB. Darnolds is in shambles, and assuming it cannot be rebuilt, nobody exudes confidence as much as a guy whose nickname is “The Jockstrap” and rocks a mullet.
4. New York Giants
After the departure of Eli Manning, the QB situation in New York isn’t looking so hot. The Giants tried to fix their offensive woes by drafting Jones, only to realize they forgot to get an offensive line and maybe Eli Manning wasn’t their issue. Drafting Saquon Barkley, an admittedly great running back, that year over say Quentin Nelson has proven to be a mistake. Should Jones not pan out this year with the locked and loaded offense they’ve given him, perhaps they should bet on a safer future and trade a couple of mid round picks for Minshew.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of who will give him the chance he deserves. Minshew; armed with a solid WR corps, a good line, and a coach that believes in him will allow him to be a solid starter in the NFL for years.