NFL

Gardner Minshew Might Be Back, but the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Headache Is Far From Over

Ideally, every NFL team wants stability under center. Since a quarterback is so central to everything an offense does on the field, you want the same player taking every snap. The Jacksonville Jaguars, however, have had anything but consistency. After Nick Foles suffered an injury in Week 1, Gardner Minshew took over; Minshew Mania ensued, but the rookie lost the starting job when Foles returned to action. On Sunday, however, head coach Doug Marrone benched the veteran and put Minshew back into the action.

With Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a quarterback controversy on their hands.
Gardner Minshew stepped back into the action, replacing Nick Foles on Sunday. | Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

While fans might be happy to see the mustached quarterback back on the field, don’t expect Gardner Minshew to magically cure the franchise’s ills. The Jaguars’ headache is only getting started.

Minshew Mania and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback problems

During the offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Nick Foles to a four-year contract. While they hoped that would provide them with some much-needed consistency at the quarterback position, things haven’t worked out as planned.

During the Jaguars’ Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Foles suffered a fractured collarbone. Rookie back-up Gardner Minshew was forced into the action; although he didn’t lead his team to victory, he inspired the fanbase with his capable play and unique personal style. While Minshew played admirably, eventually, the tide started to turn. The rookie laid an egg in London just as Foles was returning to health; Minshew Mania became a thing of the past.

When Foles stepped back into the action, though, things weren’t much better. The Jaguars lost badly to both the Colts and Titans; the trend continued on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Benching Nick Foles for Gardner Minshew

On Sunday, Foles had an opportunity to get his season back on track against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead, things became even messier.

After completing only seven passes for 93 yards and throwing an interception in the first half, Foles was benched. Minshew stepped back into the breach, but didn’t do much better; the rookie threw for 147 yards with one touchdown and one interception as the Jaguars fell 28-11. It was a chastening day for the entire team, as the players were booed off the field and unhappy in the lockerroom.

After the game, however, Doug Marrone explained the quarterback change was more about momentum than establishing a long term starter. I wanted to get a spark,” he explained. “It was kind of dead, and I wanted to get things going and made the switch at quarterback. … I haven’t spoken to either quarterback afterward. I know I’m going to get a lot of questions on it, on what’s going to happen, which is fine. I’m going to tell you the answer already. I haven’t spoken to them, and I always believe in doing things the right way. I’ve got to talk to them first.

All of Gardner Minshew’s magic can’t fix this problem

Putting Gardner Minshew back under center for the rest of the season might seem like an easy solution. Since the Jaguars aren’t going anywhere fast, you might as well let the fan-favorite play, right? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that.

The elephant in the room is Nick Foles’ contract. Since the quarterback was signed to be a key player moving forward, the Jaguars inked him to a four-year, $88 million contract, including $50.125 million guaranteed. While they can lessen that cap hit by cutting or trading Foles after June 1, either of those outcomes would be a blow to the franchise. Not only would they be publically admitting that they made a massive mistake, but they would be moving forward without a clear starter. For all of Gardner Minshew’s work this season, he’s probably not your long term answer.

While Marrone hasn’t made a firm commitment, there’s no ideal solution here. If you keep Foles on the bench, you’re only going to further tank any remaining trade value; if you keep Minshew on the sidelines, however, he’ll be missing out on reps that could be invaluable if he’s forced into the top spot next season.

Minshew Mania covered up a lot of cracks earlier in the season. Unfortunately, no amount of jorts and fake mustaches can fix the Jacksonville Jaguars’ current mess.