It’s hard for Gardner Minshew to bring the magic from the sideline.
The Jaguars’ second-year quarterback was cleared to return from a thumb injury in late November, but Jacksonville (1-11) hasn’t returned the starting role to Minshew. Instead, Mike Glennon has started the Jags’ past two games, nearly leading them to an overtime upset of the Vikings. Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone already announced that Glennon would remain the starter in Week 14 against the Titans.
“It’s so frustrating,” Minshew told ESPN on Monday. “I pretty much went and begged before the Cleveland game to be able to play. It sucks, you know, There’s no way around it.”
Minshew had been dealing with multiple fractures and a strained ligament in his right thumb since Week 5, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, but Jacksonville didn’t realize it until after Week 7. The Jags turned first to rookie Jake Luton before the veteran Glennon nabbed the past two starts.
While Minshew had drawn rave reviews as a sixth-round rookie for his exciting play and brilliant mustache, his numbers were improved through seven weeks this season. He’d upped his completion percentage by about five percentage points while his passing yards per game was up by 32. After a Week 1 win, Jacksonville lost six-straight games with Minshew at the helm, despite the growth.
The Jaguars sent a vote of confidence Minshew’s way in the offseason when they traded veteran QB Nick Foles to the Bears, essentially handing the keys to Minshew without a preseason quarterback competition. But he hasn’t been given the reins right back after his thumb injury.
“We talked today and just like I’ve told him, I just want to see more practice,” Marrone told ESPN on Monday. “I think he’s working on his volume and the amount of throws and all of that. Obviously he’s cleared medically, but still you want to be able to see those things on the practice field. I just think right now in practice Mike is throwing better and gives us the best chance to win. I don’t think Gardner’s 100 percent as far as his workload, and that’s always a concern to me, and I’m trying to understand it. We’re both trying to work through it.”
The 2020 season lined up to be Minshew’s chance to show that he was Jacksonville’s quarterback of the future. But with the Jags’ hold on the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft being a strong one, Minshew’s days as the Jaguars’ starter might already be numbered.
Sporting News’ latest mock draft sent Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields to Jacksonville. In a draft loaded with quarterbacks even behind Trevor Lawrence (who will likely go No. 1), the Jags will have their pick for a face of the franchise. What once looked like it might be Minshew’s future may now be slipping away from him.
“I want to be out there,” Minshew told ESPN on Monday. “I want to be helping our team, but if helping our team is me being the best No. 2 I can be then that’s what I’ve got to do right now.”