Minshew: "I just want to win this game…"

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Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew laughs with teammates before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

JACKSONVILLE – He's back, which obviously feels good.

But Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II on Wednesday talked less about that feeling and more about how the past month helped him grow in his job.

No, he said, no one wants to sit.

But he said in this case it may not have been a bad thing.

"It was really a good experience for me," Minshew said Wednesday as the Jaguars (4-8) prepared to play the Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

Minshew, who went 4-4 as a starter for then-injured Nick Foles early this season, on Monday was again named the starter. This time it's a more permanent position, with Head Coach Doug Marrone saying the plan is for Minshew to remain in the role.

Minshew played in place of an ineffective Foles in the second half of a 28-11 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, rallying the Jaguars from a 25-0 halftime deficit to within 14 points and missing a chance to cut into the lead when he was intercepted from the Buccaneers two-yard line with 6:06 remaining.

Marrone following the loss talked of Minshew providing a spark, and Jaguars teammates on Wednesday – while remaining supportive and positive regarding Foles – agreed.

"I love Gardner, and he brings energy," wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. said. "So, when he's out there, there's no quit in him. There's no quit in this team. Just seeing him out there, running around trying to make plays, you want to make plays for him. That's the plan."

Minshew's mobility and escapability are undeniable strengths. He also had issues during his eight games as a starter with turnovers, being intercepted five times and losing seven of 12 fumbles.

"I think the first thing is obviously the turnovers," Marrone said. "That's the first thing, the ball security. That's the one thing that he had a lot of fumbles and we wanted to make sure that we clean that up."

Marrone designed practices during Foles' two games as a starter with an eye on allowing Minshew to continue to develop. Whereas most NFL backup quarterbacks practice strictly as the scout-team quarterback during the regular season, Minshew during his time as a backup worked a seven-on-seven practice period with the starters.

"We've worked hard on it, and just having a better control of, 'Hey listen, this is what we see, this is where we want to go,'" Marrone said. "We know he can extend plays; we know he can run. Now we just want to get him on the different types of coverages that he might not have seen in college as much.

"And then like I said, Thursday, we spent all these Thursdays working on third downs and all these Fridays we're on red zone for him, so I think that's going to help him."

Minshew said he benefitted as a backup in multiple ways, including watching Foles lead and watching the veteran get the offense out of bad plays and into good ones.

"A lot of times when you're playing, you have a million different things you're having to focus in on and you can lose some of the smaller stuff," he said. "When you're out of that [starting] role, you can kind of step back and see the little details. Watching Nick was a great opportunity to learn."

What Minshew has now is an opportunity that seemed unlikely in the preseason – to show he can be the Jaguars' starter moving forward. That's a reality, though not one Minshew cared to discuss Wednesday.

"I just want to win this game," Minshew said. "Then we'll kind of reassess at the end of this game and see what we need to do for next week. Right now, all we can do is worry about beating the Chargers."

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