JACKSONVILLE – The confidence continues to grow.
That's true for Gardner Minshew II. As importantly, it's true for how the coaches feel about the rookie quarterback.
"He's earning our trust; there's no doubt," offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said of Minshew as the Jaguars (2-2) prepared to play the Carolina Panthers (2-2) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Minshew, who moved into the starting lineup when Nick Foles sustained a broken clavicle in a Week 1 loss to Kansas City, is 2-1 as a starter and has won his last two games. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month Thursday.
"It's a fine line, four games into his rookie season," DeFilippo said when discussing how much of the potential game plan is given to Minshew each week.
But make no mistake:
Jaguars coaches trust Minshew to a notable degree for a rookie. Team officials, coaches and players have lauded Minshew's football intelligence since shortly after the team selected in Round 6 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and that trait has allowed more complexities in the offense than would otherwise be the case.
"The more he goes out there and does the right thing, and throws the ball accurately, and not turning the ball over … you can continue to give a rookie more on his plate for sure," DeFilippo said. "There hasn't been much on Tuesday and Wednesday nights when we're game-planning and saying, 'Well, I'm not sure he can handle this.'
"There really hasn't been much of that at all that has come up from a protection standpoint and a scheme standpoint, so we're very fortunate that he's really worked hard to really try to master this offense."
Whereas the offense was installed largely for Foles through training camp and Week 1 of the regular season, the offense during the last three weeks has emphasized Minshew's strengths.
"The more you're around each other, and communicate, you find those things out," DeFilippo said. "Then obviously when you grade the tape on Monday, you see what consistently shows up on tape that this young man does well.
"You do that with any quarterback. You hone in on what the quarterback does well."
DeFilippo when speaking to the media Thursday specifically addressed Minshew's third-quarter touchdown pass to running back Ryquell Armstead in a 26-24 victory over the Denver Broncos Sunday. Minshew on the play avoided three-to-four potential sacks, then found Armstead open in the corner of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown.
Rookie quarterbacks often need time to learn to scan defenses – and to look downfield for receivers rather than run under pressure. DeFilippo said Minshew's touchdown pass to Armstead showed advanced traits for a rookie quarterback.
"That one was pretty good," DeFilippo said. "He did a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and his feet moving. What's really cool is knowing where people are at and feeling where people are at on the field. For a rookie, Gardner has tremendous field vision.
"People want to say, 'Well, he's six-foot whatever,' but you either can see the field or you can't. There are some guys I've been around who are 6-feet-5, 6-feet-6 that don't see the field well. That's a gift. That's a gift that a lot of the great quarterbacks in this league have. We're very fortunate he has that."
DeFilippo also lauded Minshew for his awareness on an 81-yard third-quarter run by running back Leonard Fournette, which came on what DeFilippo said was a "kill play" – and which showed Minshew's grasp of the offense and poise in game situations.
"We had two plays called in the huddle and if they gave us a look where we wanted to run a certain play, we run it," DeFilippo said. "If they gave us another look to kill the play, then we kill it and do another play. That was what we call a kill.
"It's not too big for him to do those things. A lot of times you are worried about rookies at times having too many kills in the run game or pass to run, run to pass. That hasn't been an issue that has come up so far for Gardner. He sees it great."