Every sports season brings plenty of new storylines and fan favorites. During the 2019 NFL campaign, few players stole the spotlight like Gardner Minshew. After an early injury to Nick Foles, the mustachioed quarterback took over the Jacksonville Jaguars; while he couldn’t lead the team to the postseason, he did become a cult hero during his time under center.
On Sunday, the Jaguars kicked off their 2020 season with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. While Jacksonville didn’t enter the season with the highest expectations, Gardner Minshew sent a confident message after the final whistle.
Gardner Minshew became a fan favorite in 2019
When the 2019 NFL season began, Jacksonville Jaguars fans were hoping that Nick Foles would give them some stability under center. That plan, however, ended before ever getting off the ground.
During the Jaguars’ opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Foles absorbed a big hit. While he stood tall in the pocket and threw a touchdown, the quarterback paid the price; he broke his collarbone on the play, forcing rookie Gardner Minshew into action.
Although Minshew couldn’t lead the team to victory, he made a name for himself in the process. Between his solid play and distinctive appearance—his headband and mustache earned him comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico—the young quarterback became a fan favorite. Before long, the stands were filled with fake facial hair, and Minshew Mania was in full swing.
Once Jacksonville traded Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears, Minshew officially became the team’s top dog.
Making a strong statement in Week 1
Coming into the 2020 NFL season, no one expected much from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Without Ronnie Harrison, Yannick Ngakoue, and Leonard Fournette, the team landed in the 32nd-overall spot in ESPN’s preseason power rankings. Once Week 2 rolls around, though, they’ll be moving up in the polls.
On Sunday, the Jaguars mounted a comeback to claim victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Minshew, for his part, looked solid; he completed 19 of 20 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. The rest of Jacksonville’s young roster delivered, too, helping them earn a big W.
After the game, however, Minshew stepped up to send a confident message. He made sure that the team and, thanks to social media, the fans, knew that the result should be the norm, rather than a one-off fluke.
“That just shows what we can do right there,” Minshew said in a video shared on the Jaguars’ official Twitter account. “That’s just a f—–g glimpse. We ain’t even scratching the f—–g surface yet. Do not be satisfied with 1-0. We got another division game coming up, so bring it this week in practice. Iron sharpens iron.”
Can the Jacksonville Jaguars really live up to Gardner Minshew’s words?
After the game ended, Gardner Minshew made his feelings about the Jaguars’ success clear. While the quarterback may be a bit optimistic, Week 1 was an undeniable positive for Jacksonville.
If nothing else, the Jaguars didn’t collapse. Minshew might not have broken the 200-yard plateau, but he played mistake-free football. James Robinson looked like a capable running back; the defense didn’t exactly look like an elite unit, but they got the stops that they needed in the big moments.
Was Week 1 the start of something big, as Minshew seems to believe? Probably not, but when push comes to shove, Jacksonville Jaguars fans probably won’t be complaining. Coming into the season, it looked like they’d be watching a terrible team limp through 16 weeks of disappointment; after beating the Colts, however, total embarrassment seems to be out of the question.
Beyond that, who knows; maybe Gardner Minshew can work some of his Minshew Magic again in 2020.