Gardner Minshew
What if the Nick Foles injury was a blessing in disguise? Is Gardner Minshew the Jaguars quarterback of the future? (James Gilbert/Getty)

Was the Nick Foles injury a blessing in disguise for the Jacksonville Jaguars? It’s a topic that nobody is talking about. Foles left the Week 1 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. The topic coming out of the game was how screwed the Jaguars are for the rest of the season. The topic should have been how well Gardner Minshew played. Minshew finished the game 22-25 with an adjusted completion percentage of 100 percent including 275 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The interception, by the way, wasn’t his fault.

Minshew was amazing. Hey, maybe it’s one game. The game script was a total garbage time setting. Kansas City was up big. Minshew’s debut was also undeniably electrifying. This begs a bigger question. Is Minshew actually the Jaguars quarterback of the future? It’s time to talk about the thing nobody is talking about but everyone should be talking about.

One thing in Jacksonville is certain. They have had trouble finding elite level quarterbacks. The Jags used a first round pick on Blaine Gabbert in 2011. YIKES. Jacksonville took Blake Bortles with the 3rd pick in 2014. YIKES. Seriously, who is the best quarterback in the history of the franchise? David Garrard? Mark Brunell? Byron Leftwich? I’m serious. That’s the list of the best 3. Nick Foles was supposed to be the savior behind what is a great defense. What if it’s actually Gardner Minshew?

Minshew’s story is a weird one. Calling his path unconventional would be an understatement. Minshew received a scholarship offer to play for UAB. Then the University shut down their football program. Gardner received another offer from Akron but the coach who was recruiting him died in a car accident. True story. Minshew settled on Troy but got the hell out of there fast. He started from the bottom winding up at Northwest Mississippi Community College. If you watched season 1 of ‘Last Chance U’, you may have seen him. Minshew won the National Title in 2015 throwing five touchdown passes in a 66-13 win. His lone loss of the season? That came to East Mississippi Community College. Minshew’s team only got into the dance because EMCC was disqualified for an on field brawl.

Minshew eventually transferred out and found his way at East Carolina. The ECU program has been in shambles since Lincoln Riley left to become the coach of Oklahoma. Minshew finished 3-9 in each season he attended the school. Things weren’t looking good for Minshew. He was about to lose his job to Reid Herring. Gardner had just one year of eligibility left. He wanted to play one more year of college football and then get into coaching. He thought that opportunity might come at Alabama because they came calling. He was about to sign up to be a 3rd quarterback behind Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, and then transition into coaching.

“I do want to get into coaching eventually,” Minshew said. “And [Alabama] is like going to Harvard School for Coaching.”

That’s when everything changed. At the last moment, Mike Leach at Washington State came calling.

“Do you want to be a backup at Alabama, or lead the nation in passing?”

Minshew made the obvious choice and was set to suit up as a grad transfer at Washington State. He was going to get the opportunity to play for the man who basically invented the air raid offense and had a chance to put up ridiculous numbers. That’s exactly what Minshew did. Minshew led Washington State to an 11-2 record which was their best mark in school history. He also led the country in passing yards with 367.6 yards per game while also posting 38 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a 70 percent completion rate. It became clear Minshew had talent. Maybe he just never got the right opportunity until now.

When it came time for the Senior Bowl, Minshew didn’t put his best foot forward. He struggled to even complete a pass. The Washington State quarterback went 1-8 in the Senior Bowl. Yeah, not great. However, there was something about him. It was hard to put your finger on it. I’ll share my notes I wrote on him for each day of practice.

DAY ONE: “I thought Gardner Minshew had a decent day too. He’s a backup at best but he just appears to be a serious grinder that can stick in the league.”

DAY TWO: “One last thing. Gardner Minshew has some grit to him. Speaking of poor man’s versions. Minshew looks like Baker Mayfield’s less talented brother. It’s incredible.”

Day THREE: “How about Gardner Minshew too. I’m not sure that he even had a good day but he was a screamer. He took charge in the huddle and that means something. A good guy to have in the room.”

The more you start to think about it, Minshew does have some Baker Mayfield in him. He took a circuitous route at the college level. They’re both listed at 73 inches tall and 209 pounds. Both put up big numbers with Air Raid offenses. Both have some interesting leadership dynamics. Both have the ability to rock great mustaches.

I still have no idea how talented Gardner Minshew is. Maybe is just a backup. Maybe he’s somehow more. It’s almost like Minshew reincarnated the real life version of Uncle Rico from the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Gardner Minshew doesn’t have the biggest arm, the elite size, or flashy resume at a high profile school. What he can do is throw a football over the mountains.

All of Uncle Rico’s dreams are coming to reality with Gardner Minshew. He just needed an opportunity. Luckily, Mike Leach called at just the right time. Life works in weird ways. What if this Nick Foles injury is a blessing? Gardner Minshew has a hell of an opportunity as a rookie 6th round draft pick. Minshew just might be the Jaguars quarterback of the future for a franchise that has never really had a franchise quarterback.