The New York Giants named rookie quarterback Daniel Jones the starter for Week 3 this past week, sending two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning to the bench.
“I signed up for this knowing when you draft a young quarterback, this is going to happen,” Manning said in stride at a media outing earlier in the week.
Manning being relegated to the bench is not the only move that is changing the landscape of the quarterback position. With franchise cornerstones such as Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers out due to injury, there is certainly a looming uncertainty in the talent levels of quarterbacks throughout the league this coming season.
Luckily for the National Football League and its fans, young players such as the Giants’ Daniel Jones and the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson are stepping up to take on the challenge of leading their respective teams. And one rookie is taking the league by storm: Gardner Minshew II of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Drafted out of the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Minshew’s path to his current position has been circuitous and, honestly, quite impressive.
His college football career started at Northwest Mississippi Community College. A year later, Minshew transferred to East Carolina University, playing two seasons for the Pirates before transferring once again and having a breakout year at Washington State University, winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy race.
But how did a quarterback drafted in the sixth round of last year’s NFL Draft end up taking the starting job this early in the season?
An extremely ill-fated shoulder injury took out Week 1 starter and former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Nick Foles, who was expected to start the entire season. With few other options, the injury forced the Jaguars to give the reins of responsibility to Minshew.
And, boy, has Minshew responded well.
In his debut game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Minshew completed 22 out of his 25 passes for 275 yards, throwing for two touchdowns to just one interception.
Minshew came into his next game going 22 of 33 on his throws for 213 yards and throwing for another touchdown while also contributing 56 yards on the ground against the Houston Texans.
This past Thursday, Sept. 19 Minshew completed 20 of his 30 throws and threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions, as he led the Jaguars to a 20-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Despite playing in only three games in his short career, Minshew has shown flashes of being a perennial threat to the National Football League. Minshew has made several high-IQ plays, threading the needle in tight passes to his receivers for touchdowns. Although Minshew can scramble and has shown the ability to make gains using his feet, his play doesn’t heavily rely on his run game, proving that his play can be sustainable for seasons to come.
His statistics also speak for themselves, as Minshew owns a 73.9 completion rate and a 110.6 QBR through three games. To put these numbers in perspective, these are the highest of any rookie in his first three games in the Super Bowl era, per NFL Research. For a lowly-touted prospect to perform so well already is no small task, and Minshew does it all with his own flair.
On the field, he is a confident passer with the stats to show it so far. Off the field, Minshew is a cult of personality.
He rocks a 70s-style mustache and soul patch paired with sideburns and slicked-back hair tied back by a headband. Throughout college, Minshew did resistance-band workouts in his jockstrap (much to the dismay of his teammates and coaches). He arrived at last year’s Alamo Bowl game donned in a Ferrari-red disco suit that exposed his bare chest.
Who in their right mind would do all of this?
It is this swagger Minshew brings into every game that makes us fans appreciate his production. In the changing landscape of the quarterback position, Minshew is leading this charge with his exuding confidence and his substantive play.
Although his off-field habits probably won’t bear too much weight on his on the field play, it is so refreshing to see a new face be able to take the league by surprise, all while doing it in his own unapologetic flair. He is genuinely interesting, and he has the skill to back it all up, which means that Minshew is always a fun player to watch.
If Minshew continues to produce anywhere close to the level that he has been, he could be the quarterback of the League’s future. And, as fans of this sport, we should all root for this mustached, disco-suit-wearing man to have a strong season.