A franchise can have a plan to tank for a once-in-a-decade quarterback prospect, but you’ll never get the players to comply.
Through various trades and cuts, it seemed like the Jacksonville Jaguars were trying to be the worst team in the league this season. With star Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence as the likely prize in the 2021 draft, it’s a good year to bottom out.
Gardner Minshew II would be thrilled if Lawrence is playing anywhere else next season. The Jaguars quarterback has continued his unlikely story, playing very well through two games. He’ll try to make it three as the Jaguars face the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
It’s a winnable game for Jacksonville. That would be good news for Minshew in more ways than one.
Do Jaguars have answer at QB in Gardner Minshew II?
The Jaguars’ missteps at quarterback tore apart a promising team that nearly won an AFC championship game at New England a few years ago.
They picked up the fifth-year option on Blake Bortles, then extended him when it was clear the fifth year would be guaranteed due to injury. With that investment in Bortles, the Jaguars passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft to take Leonard Fournette. Bortles washed out, as did Fournette, and the Jaguars had to start over. They spent a ton on Nick Foles in 2019, then ended up trading him after a year.
Minshew might save them. He was a sixth-round pick out of Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense at Washington State and got a chance to play when Foles got hurt. He was a fun story and played well, throwing 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He was one of the most accurate deep passers in the league. The Jaguars gave Minshew a shot to start again this season and the implication seemed clear: If Minshew played well again this season, it might knock the team out of the sweepstakes for Lawrence (or Justin Fields or any other top quarterback prospect) and they’d have their quarterback going forward. If Minshew faltered and the Jaguars were as bad as it seemed they might be, he might be replaced.
It’s only two games, but Minshew hasn’t flinched under that pressure.
Minshew is playing well
Minshew was 19-of-20 with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a Week 1 upset win over the Indianapolis Colts. Minshew threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns last week, though the Jaguars fell short to a good Tennessee Titans team, losing 33-30 on a late field goal. He looks like the real deal.
If the Jaguars were secretly hoping for Lawrence, a phenomenal prospect who could turn a franchise around from a results and marketing perspective, Minshew is screwing up those plans. There are 14 games to go and a Jacksonville team that has dumped several stars over the past year could still tumble to the bottom of the NFL. It’s also possible Minshew slumps. That’s why winning games against teams like the 0-2 Dolphins is important for Minshew, to make sure the Jaguars aren’t in position to take Lawrence and replace him. Minshew would have to play out of his mind this season for the Jaguars to pass on a prospect like Lawrence. But at this point, it doesn’t seem like the Jaguars will be that bad and it doesn’t seem like Minshew will give them any reason to look elsewhere at quarterback.
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