Thursday night marked the end of the NFL preseason, and for the Jacksonville Jaguars, it is time to focus on a season that could be full of promise, and while things are settled at the starting quarterback position, the backup QB position is not.
At this point, rookie QB Gardner Minshew, who was selected in the sixth round in this year’s draft, is the backup to Nick Foles but based on what we saw on Thursday night and throughout the preseason, the Jaguars can’t feel very comfortable.
Minshew, who started the game and played three quarters, completed only 11 of 26 passes for 79 yards, as the Jaguars fell to the Falcons 31-12 at TIAA Bank Field. In four preseason games, Minshew was unable to lead Jacksonville on a touchdown scoring drive.
After the game, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone gave his assessment on Minshew.
“You want to see him do better,” Marrone said. “It’s always in the back of your mind ‘Well, what if he was with this guy or that guy?’ But you want to see that production. It’s tough. There are times where I felt really good and times where I want to see more. It’s not from his lack of work ethic or lack of his effort or practice; he’s been pretty consistent in practices. A lot of the fans and people out there don’t see the practices every day, and the media doesn’t see him every day. All they’re able to look at is what goes out there on the field, and obviously, you’re going to want more, and Gardner wants more from himself, too, and you’re going to see that.
“A lot of times, quarterbacks and a lot of positions, most of the time, offensively, when you get better guys around you, you’re going to do better. It’s easier to evaluate if you had better guys around you and he doesn’t do well, then it’s easy, and you shouldn’t be around. I wish he was better; I don’t want to say more comfortable with it, but I wish there was more evidence to make it easier for him because he’s worked so hard and deserves it, but it’s what you do on the field.”
When asked if he was comfortable with Minshew as the backup, Marrone had this to say.
“If that’s what is elected to do, then I will be fine with it,” he said. “I learned a long time ago that it’s easy to go in there as a coach and demand, ‘I want better here, I want better here, I want better here,’ and you can go down the list and say that but I’ve always taken a lot of responsibility to make sure I develop players. The number one thing I learned when I came into the NFL and when I took over for the New York Jets, they were hounding me, telling me what it takes to coach in this league. I have to develop players. I understand that aspect of it, but at the same time, we as coaches have to realize we’re not going to have the perfect team. Not going to have the best players at each position and I think what makes the difference in coaches is being able to take these players and make them, as a whole, an unbelievable unit.
“It takes a lot of work from assistant coaches and coordinators to do that, but those are the things that you have to do. I don’t think anyone sits up there and is totally happy, there is always going to be better players and you have to love the ones you have and make them great because they want to be great.”
Not a very glowing endorsement for Minshew and you wonder if Jacksonville should and would be in the market for a backup quarterback. Obviously, no team is signing Colin Kaepernick, so you can take his name out of the mix. Would Jacksonville have any interest in Sam Bradford? Brock Osweiler? Matt Cassel? Who knows, but the team may have to do something before the start of the season because Mishew is not the answer right now.