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Jaguars at QB: Foles future uncertain, Minshew driven to be great

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks Gardner Minshew (15) and Nick Foles (7) talk during warm ups before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

JACKSONVILLE – This much is certain: Gardner Minshew II is confident.

"I know what I am; I know I'm going to be a great quarterback in this league," Minshew said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 38-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 regular-season finale at TIAA Bank Field.

"I think we're going to build something great here."

As far as the rest of the Jaguars' quarterback situation …

Well, the truth is little else is certain about the position. A 2019 season that began with veteran free-agent signee Nick Foles as the starter ended Sunday with a healthy Foles backing up Minshew, a rookie who began the season as a backup and who made a case to be the future starter.

While Minshew started 12 of 16 games in 2019, it was something of a lost season for Foles. After beginning the season as the team's apparent quarterback of the future, he sustained a broken clavicle in Week 1 and started three games in November before Minshew replaced him as the starter.

"I don't know what my future holds," Foles said. "The big thing right now is just being in the moment. I've always said, 'Being in the moment.' I don't know what my future holds. I'm sure we'll find out in the next couple of months, but I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to continue being me."

Foles, like Minshew, spoke Monday – a day known as getaway day around the NFL. It's the day when players pack their lockers – with many not knowing if they will return the following season. It was a day of particular uncertainty around the Jaguars, with Owner Shad Khan not yet announcing the organizational futures of Head Coach Doug Marrone or General Manager David Caldwell.

That uncertainty extends to quarterback.

"I know I'm going to go home and work really hard," Minshew said. "I know Nick's going to go home and work really hard. We're both going to show up and do the best we can for this team. However that shakes out it's going to shake out."

Both Foles and Minshew remain under contract, with Minshew having three seasons remaining on his rookie contract. A sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Minshew dramatically exceeded expectations by completing 285 of 470 passes for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns with six interceptions as a rookie.

Minshew went 6-6 as a starter and had perhaps his best game of the season Sunday by completing 27 of 39 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.

"It's good thing," Minshew said. "It's good to see what we can be and what we should be – and what we should have been all along. Hopefully, we can find our identity in some of the stuff we did well."

Minshew said he planned to work in the offseason in Naples with quarterback specialist Ken Mastrole – the Mastrole Quarterback Academy – where he worked in college and leading to the draft.

"It's getting back to the basics, and being really solid in my fundamentals," he said.

Foles, the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2017 season, signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent last March – and he has three years remaining on a contract that guaranteed $45.1 million.

Foles, after being injured on the 11th play of the opener, started Weeks 11-13 – three Jaguars losses. Minshew replaced him at halftime of a 28-11 loss to Tampa Bay, a game in which Foles lost two fumbles and was intercepted. Foles, who considered retirement after being benched in 2015 while with the St. Louis Rams, called this season "10 times as hard as St. Louis."

"The magnitude of growth and learning from this year is way more than that, but I'm in it right now," Foles said. "The most important thing is to step away. I know what I learned from that [St. Louis], and I know how it impacted me as a human being – which is a wonderful thing – but when you're in it, it's hard to see everything.

"Months down the road, it will be revealed to me at the right time and that will be beautiful thing…. I will learn so much through the trials of this year. It's just been trial after trial after trial after trial after trial, but there's a lot of great learning experiences in this year."

While Foles considered retirement following his year in St. Louis, he said that's not the case this offseason.

"I know I can still play," Foles said. "There are people out there who believe in me. I know what I can do. I've shown what I can do. I look forward to what the future holds. I'll be ready to fire away."

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