Minshew: "There are definitely positives…"

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Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew looks for a receiver against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE – A game remains, and he's still working.

That doesn't mean Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II won't acknowledge that it has been a long season. And a long year, for that matter.

But he has spent that year improving, and there's no reason to stop now.

"There are definitely positives to be taken," Minshew said Tuesday as the Jaguars (5-10) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (7-8) in the 2019 regular-season finale at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

"There's a lot of learning, too, that happened. I think we're going to use some of the stuff we went through this year to make us better for the future, for sure."

One area in which Minshew has improved dramatically: ball security.

"He's done an outstanding job of that," Head Coach Doug Marrone said, adding that Minshew has made better decisions in terms of when to run and when to stay in the pocket as the season has continued.

"He's gotten much better in that situation," Marrone said.

Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, had major issues with turnovers when he first took over for injured starter Nick Foles following the latter's broken clavicle sustained in Week 1. While Minshew earned six Rookie of the Week Awards in eight starts, he also committed 11 turnovers during that stint – seven lost fumbles and four interceptions.

Since Minshew returned to the starting lineup after Foles' two-game stint as a starter, has lost no fumbles with just one interception.

"It's just a new focus to it," Minshew said. "It's just learning that guys get on you a lot quicker. They're longer. They're faster. In college, it feels like you have a little more time than you do here. Getting a better feel for that, I feel like has helped."

Marrone said Thursday the issue for Minshew and Jaguars coaches is to find better balance for Minshew in this area.

"It's something we've discussed, 'Hey, we've done a really good job of that, but is it hurting us in some sense, too?''' Marrone said. "Are we preaching that too much where you become too conservative or you might not pull the trigger? You don't want that, obviously."

The search for that balance is common for young quarterbacks.

"We're trying to figure that out – when to extend plays and how to do it the right way," Minshew said. "One of the things we feel like I do well in my game is being able to do that, extend plays. You have to do it responsibly, though.

"That's been part of the learning process, working on that. As we move forward, as we get more experience, hopefully the better we'll get at it."

Another area Minshew said the Jaguars must improve: the beginning of games. The Jaguars have scored just 22 first-half points during the last seven games. Minshew in the last two games has completed six of 20 passes for 80 first-half yards.

"We're trying to identify that, and we're trying to address it," he said. "I think we have some things in the plan this week to try to mix it up. I think at this point, we're kind of throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks. Hopefully, we'll get it figured out this week and we'll get rolling."

Minshew, asked Tuesday where he believed is better now than Week 1, replied: "Knowledge." He also said game is a bit slower now than when he first started. That was more than three months ago, and it was all part of a rookie season that, in essence, began at last January's Senior Bowl.

So, a long season? A long year?

Yes, Minshew said, it has been that – but one in which he feels he has grown as well.

"It's been long, because football hasn't really stopped since the beginning of my senior years at Wazoo (Washington State)," he said. "I think all of the rookies go through that; it's definitely a long one. But you look back and you're super-grateful for it, grateful for all the things you have learned."

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