Next stop for Minshew Mania: The Mile High City

Rookie QB and Jaguars have been perfect fit so far as Broncos loom

Gardner Minshew runs the ball during a Week 2 game in Houston.
Gardner Minshew runs the ball during a Week 2 game in Houston.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gardner Minshew II has been the talk of the NFL.  

How has the Jaguars rookie quarterback responded to that crush of newfound fame? 

Perspective. Lots of it. 

"No, I don't really pay attention to it. I try to stay off of social media, just keep life simple," Minshew said. "Just stay in the book, study up and get ready for each game as it comes."

Minshew has been one of the league's best stories, and certainly a welcome and unexpected jolt for the Jaguars (1-2), who travel to Denver on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. to face the 0-3 Broncos. 

Minshew Mania is going mile high. 

"Yeah. They're a team that's definitely better than what their record shows," Minshew said of Denver. "They play hard, they've been very close to getting home. Two of the best edge guys [Bradley Chubb and Von Miller] in the game. We definitely have our work cut out for us, but I have a ton of belief in our guys whoever we go against."

After his start, the Jaguars have a ton of belief in Minshew, too. 

Not expected to be much of an offensive factor with the signing of Nick Foles, Minshew has played 11 full quarters of pro football. He is 65 of 88 passing for 692 yards and five touchdowns. His lone interception was a ball that bounced out of Leonard Fournette's hands. 

The start by Minshew has been, well, historic. 

According to NFL Research, Minshew's completion percentage (73.8) through three games is the highest by a rookie in the league's 100-year history. His 110.6 passer rating is also the highest for a rookie. 

Minshew has also endeared himself to a fanbase in a way no other Jaguars quarterback has. 

The mustache. The jorts. The American flag headband and red leisure suit that looked straight out of Studio 54. Is this schtick all new, or is who Minshew really is?  

"No, I've had the jorts for a long time," Minshew said of sporting the jorts during a return visit to Washington State last Sunday. "It's been a staple for a long, long time."

Minshew also cut off a fan's jeans and turned them into jorts during a Monday episode of The Mark Brunell Show at Sneakers.

And the stories continue to amplify Minshew's persona. 

Minshew told the Pardon My Take podcast about an interesting situation that he put himself in while he was with East Carolina in 2016. Injuries and a position switch pushed Minshew up the depth chart and into the lineup, something he was hoping wouldn't happen. Minshew wanted to redshirt the season after transferring to the Pirates from Northwest Mississippi Community College. 

Since he'd already played, Minshew said it irked him that he'd potentially wasted an entire season of eligibility by filling in for an injured quarterback. The only way he could reclaim that redshirt, Minshew said, was by a medical redshirt. 

So, he grabbed a hammer and a bottle of Jack Daniels and went to work on trying to — get this — break his own hand to earn a medical redshirt. After a few whacks and no broken hand, Minshew relented. 

"So, the attempted broken hand – that was really the only way for me to get a redshirt," he said Wednesday. "At the time it was to get a medical [redshirt], so I had the bright idea to try to break my hand, but it didn't work fortunately. Looking back at it, it was pretty dumb. Believe it or not, breaking your hand is pretty dumb. But I always tell people, what would you do to play more ball, and that's damn near anything."

Minshew would open 2017 as the East Carolina starter, but he was later overtaken on the depth chart by Thomas Sirk, a Baker County High School product. Minshew would leave for Washington State as a graduate transfer in 2018 and went on to lead the country in numerous passing categories. He finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. 

Minshew and the Jaguars have been the ideal match. The Jaguars have been starved for a quarterback ever since Brunell's final season in 2003. Through three games, Minshew has been the quarterback — and the personality — that's perfect for Jacksonville. 

He even told Denver-area media on Wednesday that "I'm right where I'm supposed to be."


About the Author: