Gardner Minshew: Jaguars have a lot to prove this season

Low expectations for team should help put a chip on players’ shoulders entering 2020

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The offseason made one thing clear.

The Jaguars are Gardner Minshew’s team now.

That, along with the significant amount of roster turnover, have set the expectations just about as low as they’ve ever been for the Jaguars.

Is that a fair assessment for a team coming off of a 6-10 season?

The Jaguars have never had the No. 1 overall draft pick in their 26 seasons, but that’s the expectation come 2021.

Both ESPN and Pro Football Focus have projected the Jaguars to be the league’s worst team. DraftKings Sportsbook has Jacksonville’s odds at going 0-16 at +2500. Only Washington’s (+5000) is worse. Bovada’s odds on the Jaguars winning their division or the Super Bowl are the worst in the league.

Minshew said that it’s impossible not to hear or see those things, but players will no doubt use that as motivation.

“Yeah, I mean I think it should put a chip on everybody's shoulder on our team, you know being kind of counted out like that,” he said. “You know, I think we do have a lot to prove. You know, prove that we're not what anybody says about us. The only people that really, you know, only people whose opinion matters in that huddle who's on that team. I think we're going to set those expectations for ourselves, and not worry about, you know, what anybody else has to say about us.”

Minshew turned in a rookie season that was better than anyone could have projected. The sixth-round draft pick out of Washington State wasn’t expected to see the field outside of preseason but was forced into action in the opening quarter of the regular season. Expensive free agent signee Nick Foles broke his collarbone less than a dozen snaps into the opener.

Minshew went on to start 12 games and went 6-6. He passed for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns and became a national storyline due to his persona and jorts and demeanor.

Jacksonville dealt Foles to the Bears after the season and was thought to have at least kicked the tires on one of the draft’s top quarterbacks. But the Jaguars opted to stick with Minshew as the unquestioned starter.

“You know I had conversations with [general manager] Dave Caldwell, I told him do what you think’s best for this team. I believe that I’m going to give us the best chance to win no matter what,” Minshew said. “And I just got to prove that every day. And I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to prove that.”

News4Jax sports analyst Mark Brunell has raved about Minshew, but said this is pivotal offseason for his growth. Despite all of the virtual practicing and working out with quarterback trainers, Brunell said that Minshew needs live football reps with his teammates more than anything.

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