JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew is making his share of mistakes.
That’s to be expected. It’s part of the NFL learning process, particularly for a young quarterback. It’s the nature of the errors that pleases the Jaguars rookie.
“I’m making new mistakes,” Minshew said.
And if that doesn’t make the mistakes acceptable, it at least means he’s progressing.
“They’re not having to teach the same things,” the sixth-round draft selection from Washington State University said.
That’s the task for Minshew during the on-field portion of the Jaguars’ 2019 offseason program, which continues this week with the third week of 2019 organized team activities at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
Minshew, known in college as a cerebral, savvy quarterback, is in the process of translating those skills to the NFL. And while it’s a difficult process, it’s one he believes is going well.
“The biggest thing here is there’s more volume, more detail – so that just takes more time,” Minshew said. “I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily harder. You just have to put a lot more time in to really figure it out.”
Minshew, who set Pac-12 records for passing yards and completions in 2018, drew praise from Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin immediately after the 2019 NFL Draft for his football intelligence and ability to process information quickly. The Jaguars hope the sixth-round selection can parlay that into potentially backing up starter Nick Foles sooner than later.
“One thing I’ve learned is when you don’t know what you’re doing it moves a lot faster,” Minshew said with a laugh. “Once you know what we’re doing, it slows everything else down.”
Minshew appears to be progressing during the on-field portion of the offseason program. He had a long touchdown pass late in Monday’s practice and appeared to be throwing accurately with good decisions on intermediate routes Tuesday. Not that it’s all gone perfectly.
“I think the first or second day out here I threw a pick on a hitch in Cover 4,” Minshew said.
Asked what he learned from the mistake, Minshew smiled.
“I know now you can’t throw hitches against Cover 4 in the NFL,” he said, adding that that’s the sort of lesson that makes these early practices valuable.
“That’s what really frustrates the coaches, is if they’re having to reach the same thing,” he said. “You’ve got to show the willingness to learn and the willingness to take the mistakes, take the film and get better.”
Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell is encouraged by Keelan Cole in recent months. “This offseason has been really good for him,” McCardell said of Cole, who caught just 38 passes for 491 yards a touchdown last season after catching 42 passes for 748 yards and three touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in 2017. McCardell said last season showed Cole that “this is real. This is the NFL. People tend to game plan you now when you’ve had some success. How do you bounce back and come back and game plan for them? How do you prepare mentally? He’s refocused and understands that, ‘I’ve had some success. Guys tend to prepare for me a little bit different than when I was just a guy that nobody knows.’ Now you are known. People prepare for you now. How do you prepare and how do you get better?” Cole was among the NFL leaders in drops last season with seven. “Drops come for receivers,” McCardell said. “I understand that. It’s about your mental state. How can you bounce back from having a bad game to coming back the next week and having a great game?” McCardell also said Cole may have struggled with a larger role made necessary when starter Marqise Lee sustained a season-ending preseason knee injury. “He had to step full-fledged into a starting role and that can weigh a lot on a second-year guy that hasn’t really had that experience of being a starter,” McCardell said. “It comes with the territory, those ups and downs. Now that he’s had that down, now let’s come back up and let’s prove to people that you belong here, you know you belong here. Now let’s show everybody that you belong here.”
“We have brought in a lot of guys who are a little older, maybe a little more experienced. It’s good to have some guys that can bring that leadership type mentality. Obviously, [quarterback] Nick Foles has done an incredible job of being a leader. He just has a real confident voice in the locker room and that is contagious. When your quarterback is confident like that and can really speak and inspire guys, it just rubs off on everyone else. We are out here competing and trying to get better each and every day. A lot of new guys are showing up and earning the respect of guys who been here. That is a good feeling when guys can come in and pay their dues and earn their respect from the guys.”
--- Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell