JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton examine the Jaguars' quarterbacks as the 2020 offseason ends and the '20 season approaches.
Projected starter: Gardner Minshew II.
Others: Mike Glennon, Josh Dobbs, Jake Luton.
2020 offseason additions: Glennon (unrestricted free agent, Oakland Raiders), Luton (sixth-round selection 2020 NFL Draft, Oregon State).
2020 offseason losses: Nick Foles (traded to Chicago Bears for fourth-round selection 2020 NFL Draft).
Offseason overview: Another offseason, another reset for the Jaguars at the league's most important position. The Jaguars, after transitioning last offseason from starting Blake Bortles to starting Nick Foles at the position, this offseason moved on from Foles after just one season with the organization. Foles started just four games for the Jaguars – all losses. When the Jaguars opted not to pursue a high-profile quarterback in free agency or select one early in the draft, that made it clear that Minshew – a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft – will begin his second NFL season as the Jaguars' starting quarterback. The Jaguars following the draft signed Glennon, who has 22 career starts and who played two games as a reserve with Oakland last season; he appears likely to backup Minshew at the position.
Oehser analysis: This is yet another critical season for the Jaguars at this position, where the primary storyline essentially begins and end with Minshew. The Jaguars would like nothing better than for Minshew to have a monster year and emerge as the franchise quarterback they have been seeking for two decades. They very much believe he is capable of doing that. That's why they opted against drafting a quarterback early and it's why they forewent a premium quarterback in free agency. Minshew's performance as a rookie last season gave them hope. He went 6-6 as a starter, showing remarkable savvy and promising poise in pressure situations. He also exhibited promising touch on deep passes – and when he was good, he was as exciting and dynamic as any NFL rookie quarterback last season. He also played well late in the season after a few shaky performances – another indication that he has the poise to handle the most-pressurized position in sports. He absolutely earned the right to start this season, and those that are optimistic about his potential have valid reasons for that belief. Making Minshew's story fascinating is there are just as many valid reasons for not being sure he will fulfill that potential. He must improve pocket presence and decision-making, and he must avoid the extended periods of ineffectiveness that defined a large stretch of his time as a starter last season. He also must improve in the red zone. The Jaguars were absolutely right to give Minshew the opportunity to start in 2020. He earned it. Now, he must adapt to defenses game-planning against his tendencies better than he did as a rookie, and he must be more consistent. If he does that, the Jaguars might have their franchise guy. If he doesn't, they may be selecting a quarterback in Round 1 in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Sexton analysis: Is Minshew "the man" or isn't he? That's the question and we won't know for sure until the 2020 season is complete. We will know for sure at that point because the Jaguars will have to know before the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jaguars can't walk away from the added benefits afforded them via the Jalen Ramsey trade without identifying a franchise quarterback. Minshew has everything but the big arm; we'll see if new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's scheme and Minshew's work since last season ended make a difference. There's a lot to like but when it comes to the guy around whom you're building, "like" isn't good enough; you have to love him. I could write words about Dobbs and Glennon – or offer a few thoughts on Luton, the big rookie from Washington State – but none of those guys have any bearing on the long term for this franchise. The opening question is the only question this season as far as I am concerned: Is Minshew the man? If the answer is yes, then the Jaguars are in a strong spot to rise in 2021.