JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew II likes his new offensive scheme.
"It's a very exciting offense," he said. "I think everybody's been really enjoying learning it."
But when it comes to that learning process, the Jaguars' starting quarterback on Tuesday said the 2020 offseason brought obvious challenges.
Virtual-, COVID-19-related challenges.
Minshew, entering his first season as the Jaguars' full-time starting quarterback discussed those challenges Tuesday on a videoconference with local media. It was his first media availability of 2020 Training Camp, and Minshew emphasized he likes the offense that new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden installed during the offseason.
"I'm very excited about what it's going to bring to us," Minshew said. "It gets the ball out of your hands and distributes it to guys who can make plays. I think we have plenty of those guys, too, so I think everybody's excited for what Jay's bringing and what we have coming back."
The Jaguars following the 2019 season parted ways with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and hired Gruden, the Washington Redskins' head coach from 2014 through this past season. Gruden's West-Coast offense emphasizes creating mismatches for offensive skill players, and also emphasizes quarterbacks making quick decisions and throwing quickly.
With all NFL teams' 2020 offseasons conducted virtually, Gruden has yet to participate in a full practice with the Jaguars. That will happen for the first time next week, with full-pad practices scheduled to begin August 17.
"You can draw everything up on paper, and you know it by the book, but it's really [about] getting in there and getting the reps and feeling the real timing of things," Minshew said. "Making sure your footwork really meshes up within the play and seeing where actual spacing is versus on the page is definitely different.
"This offense is pretty user-friendly. I think everybody's learning it pretty well. I'm excited to get moving with it."
Minshew said offensive skill players as a group took a small step toward continuity with a few workouts held on their own shortly after the end of the offseason program in early June.
"We obviously did that as much as we could while being as safe as possible," Minshew said. "It was good to be around those guys, spend time together and get on the same page – see how they like things and them see how I like things. We have a lot of new faces and a lot of guys coming back. They put the work in and have gotten a lot better.
"I think as a group we're all excited to work with each other."
Minshew on Tuesday said he is optimistic about how Jaguars players will fit into the offense, in particular praising rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. – a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Minshew's Washington State team played Shenault's Colorado team in 2018 – Minshew's lone season at WSU.
"Laviska's a freak," Minshew said. "I knew it when we played at Colorado. I was glad he wasn't super-healthy that game. He changes the game when has the ball in his hands. He's really impressed me. He's a lot better route-runner and a lot better catching the ball than I even expected. I'm really excited for what he's going to be."
Minshew on rookie wide receiver Collin Johnson, a fifth-round selection from the University of Texas: "He's a big guy, but he doesn't move like a big guy. He moves really well, smooth in and out of his cuts. He catches the ball well. Both of those guys, they love ball. I'm excited to work with them."
And while many observers have questioned whether the Jaguars can contend in 2020, Minshew reiterated Tuesday what he said on the topic throughout the offseason.
"Me and the rest of our team are pretty internally motivated," Minshew said "We have our own goals. We don't need anybody else to tell us what to do or what we're not going to do. We believe in each other and we're going to bring it each day to be the best we can be. …
"You hear all of those things and you hear what people are saying against you, but at the end of the day you know what you do and you know what the guys around you can do. We're going to focus on the things we can do and not the things we can't do. If we focus on ourselves, we'll have a chance to be pretty damned good."