When the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew in the sixth round, most fans probably wondered who he was. Since he played on the west coast, many fans in Florida probably never watched him in college. But then the newly-acquired Nick Foles went down with a broken collarbone in Week One, leading to the triumphant rise of “Minshew Mania.”
Sadly, it appears that the miraculous run of Garner Minshew is coming to an end. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has announced that Nick Foles will regain his job as the starting quarterback following their bye this week.
As is often the case with a popular player like Minshew, when he gets benched for someone else, Twitter erupts. But it wasn’t all outrage. Many fans were realistic, understanding that the team needs to see what it has in Nick Foles. The Jaguars have at least $45 million invested in him; they need to evaluate what he can do as the leader of the Jacksonville offense.
But that didn’t stop all of the Twitter comedians from making jokes:
But is it truly the end of an era, or is Minshew Mania just on pause?
As a late-round pick thrown into NFL action during Week One, likely without ever having played with the first team before, Minshew performed remarkably well. Jacksonville ended up going 4-5 with him at quarterback. But they should have beaten the Texans in Week Two, and they only lost to the Panthers and Saints by one score.
So, they could have been 7-2.
While Gardner Minshew leaves the Jaguars in the capable hands of Nick Foles going forward, he will be back. It is hard to say when, but he played well enough over nine games to warrant consideration as a future starter in the NFL. Through nine weeks, he is tenth in the league in passing yards, has a 13-4 touchdown to interception ratio, and boasts a QB rating of 92.8.
It’s not fabulous or MVP-worthy, but it shows that there is something there worth holding onto and developing.
Foles is great – or at least he has been for the Eagles – but he is going to cost the Jaguars at least $45.125 million (the amount of his four-year, $88 million contract guaranteed at signing) just for this year and the next. Minshew is going to cost the team $2.7 million through 2022—and he is only 23 years old. Nick Foles is 30.
Who wants an expensive, aging franchise quarterback when you can have one in his mid-to-early twenties?
So, maybe the masterplan in Jacksonville is to play Nick Foles right now, and prove he still has the magic. Then in the offseason, they trade him. At $22 million a season, he will be a bargain among starting quarterbacks if he plays up to his potential. With his track record, there will likely be at least a few suitors.
That way, the path becomes clear for Minshew Mania to commence. And when Leonard Fournette is due to get paid (as early as 2021), they will have plenty of cap space available.