LONDON – Shad Khan likes much about what he seen.
The Jaguars have faced their share of difficulties through a turbulent eight games this season, losing their starting quarterback and their All-Pro cornerback. Alongside Minshew Mania, the team has dealt with injuries at linebacker and tight end. To be .500 at the season’s midway point?
The Jaguars’ owner called that a “good place.”
“We’ve had adversity, and we’ve been able to overcome that,” Khan said Saturday morning at The Dorchester London. “Good teams do that. I think it’s quite a testament to the team that we are able to encounter it and overcome that.”
Khan on Saturday morning met with a few media members in advance of the team’s annual game in London. During a 15-minute session, he discussed multiple on-and-off-field Jaguars issues, including the recent trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the future of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and the development of quarterback Gardner Minshew II.
He touched on Ramsey early in the conversation, saying the high-profile situation “played out great for us.”
Ramsey, a Pro Bowl selection the past two seasons, requested a trade following a Week 2 loss at Houston. He played the following week but did not play again and practiced sparingly thereafter because of back, other health issues and family matters.
He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams following a Week 6 loss to the New Orleans Saints for two first-round draft selections (2020, 2021) and a fourth-round selection (2021). The Jaguars have won twice since the trade and enter Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium at 4-4.
“We want to have players who are committed to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who can help us win,” Khan said. “If not, we want to get fair value out of that.”
Khan also on Saturday discussed Ngakoue, whose rookie contract expires after the 2019 season. Ngakoue held out early in training camp but has played in seven of eight games this season. He has four sacks this season and has 33.5 sacks in three and a half NFL seasons.
Khan said he doesn’t expect Ramsey’s departure to affect Ngakoue’s situation.
“I don’t think that impacts that,” Khan said. “We’ve had we thought a very, very good offer [to Ngakoue this past offseason]. But I think Yannick is a great player. Our goal is we want him to be part of the team.”
Khan also on Saturday talked extensively about Minshew, who the team selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and who moved into the starting lineup when starting quarterback Nick Foles sustained a broken clavicle in a season-opening loss to Kansas City.
Foles had signed as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, and Khan said the Week 1 injury was an emotional moment.
“It’s quite a bummer,” he said.
His first thought at the moment? The best laid plans of mice and men ...
“You feel bad for Nick,” Khan said. “I think he’s a great guy. I could sense his leadership, the difference he made since we got him on the team, but I had confidence in Gardner.”
Khan added, “He had the fire in the belly, so I had a very different feeling than I would have in the prior six years that all was not lost.”
Khan said that feeling about Minshew at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February/March. Khan insisted at the time the Jaguars draft a quarterback. The team had yet to sign Foles, but Khan said he wanted the Jaguars to address the backup position in the draft.
“For me, we were not getting out of this draft … I didn’t care if we took a quarterback in the first round,” Khan said. “We needed somebody. That’s something in the six prior years of my tenure we just had not been able to get done – which is have a competent backup.
“The phrase I used with [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Tom [Coughlin] and [Head Coach] Doug [Marrone] was, ‘Where’s our Nick Foles, who God forbid if something happens is going to come in and help us?’ … I told them, ‘We’re taking a quarterback who if God forbid something happens is going to give us a fighting chance. You guys tell me which round, value, blah, blah, blah.’”
Khan’s first impression of Minshew?
“He thought I was a coach,” Khan said, laughing, “which all of sudden I said, ‘OK, this guy thinks I know a lot more than I do.’”
Khan said the team targeted a few players at the position and talked to multiple draft-eligible quarterbacks. Khan said Minshew was one of three quarterbacks the Jaguars identified entering the draft with the idea of selecting one of the three, and that Minshew’s impression was dramatic and unique.
“They won’t say anything, they’ve been programmed,” Khan said of many young quarterback prospects. “They’ll answer, ‘Yes, sir … no, sir … blah, blah, blah. Gardner was the opposite of that. He was just as loose and relaxed, but a million times more prepared. The consensus was he was not going to get drafted. He came in and said, ‘OK, I know the book on me. I’m too short. I don’t have the arm strength. I’m too slow. But I won 11 [expletive] games last year.’ OK, wow. This is pretty cool. For Tom Coughlin to immediately get up and say, ‘This is interesting…’”
Khan, too, said Minshew impressed when discussing football and analyzing specific situations.
“His football IQ was just off the charts,” Khan said. “I’ve sat through enough interviews: Confidence, you can say ‘Arrogance,’ the swagger … The biggest drama intensity for me in the draft was that we went down to sixth round [before selecting Minshew]. David Caldwell thought he definitely was going to be there. I thought let’s take him [earlier] and let’s just call it a day.’’