LONDON – Where he goes, Mania follows.
And while Minshew Mania isn’t close to the level in England as it is in Jacksonville, there’s at least enough of it in these parts to be a topic.
“It’s crazy to see the impact you have just by playing a game; people hear about you from all over – across the freaking pond and all that,” Gardner Minshew II said Friday. “That’s awesome. I’m excited to be out here and meet everybody and really just get to know the people out here.”
To be sure:
Minshew, the Jaguars’ quarterback, wasn’t the only topic Friday as the Jaguars (4-4) prepared to play the Houston Texans (5-3) at Wembley Stadium Sunday at 9:30 a.m. But with Minshew, Head Coach Doug Marrone and cornerback A.J. Bouye meeting the media after the Jaguars’ annual practice at Allianz Park, Minshew as expected drew interest.
A few headbands were spotted among the Jaguars fans attending the practice, and Marrone not unexpectedly was asked by international media about Minshew – whose headbands/aviator sunglasses persona has helped stir interest in him, along with his success on the field.
Marrone said he sees far more to the young player than hype.
“A lot of people, if you’re looking at him from the outside, I think you’re seeing all the headbands and the mustaches – I guess for a lack of a better word, ‘The Mania,’’’ Marrone said. “I don’t see that within the building. Within the building, once he comes in, I see a young man who’s focused on doing the best job he can for his teammates.”
Minshew, since taking over as the starter for injured starter Nick Foles (broken clavicle) following Foles’ Week 1 injury, has thrown 13 touchdowns with two interceptions. He is 4-3 as a starter, and Marrone said this week he has yet to decide who will start when Foles is eligible to return November 17 at Indianapolis.
Marrone since Minshew took over has talked often of Minshew’s maturity on and off field, and his football intelligence. He expanded on those topics Friday.
“He’s extremely intelligent,” Marrone said. “He doesn’t want to let anyone down, whether it’s himself, family or teammates. He never really gets rattled. He never gets too high and he never gets too low. He has a real good even personality, and I think that serves him well.
“People gravitate to him. He’s a good communicator. He has good leadership skills. You see that. He’s put a lot of work in that people don’t see.”
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo Thursday lauded Minshew’s development since his first start – which came in Week 2 against the Jaguars’ opponent Sunday, the Texans. Minshew nearly rallied the Jaguars from a ten-point fourth-quarter deficit in that game, with the Texans clinching a 13-12 victory by stopping running back Leonard Fournette’s two-point conversion run in the final minute.
DeFilippo said this week said Minshew’s development since then – particularly his overall calmness – has been remarkable. Minshew on Friday said he indeed feels he has grown since his first NFL start.
“If you go back and watch that film from back then, you feel like you’re a different player,” he said. “It feels like so long ago – just with the experience I feel like I’ve been getting in the offense and how much more confidence we’re playing with right now.
“As you go through these weeks and see these looks, it’s less, ‘Oh, God, what are they doing to me? Are they blitzing? Are they not blitzing?’ Now it’s, ‘OK, I’ve seen this,’ or if I haven’t, I understand how to stay within our plans and make it work.”
Minshew, as he has done in Jacksonville, mixed in humor with football discussion in his first international press conference. He was asked during the brief session if he had a British headband. He didn’t hesitate with his reply.
“Do I have one?” he asked with a laugh, adding to the gathered media, “I figured you’d have one for me.”