JACKSONVILLE – The quarterback remains confident. He left no doubt about that.
The Jaguars have lost three consecutive games, a stretch that has changed the perception of many regarding the Jaguars. But quarterback Gardner Minshew II on Wednesday said the perception of players hasn't changed.
And the second-year veteran said the realityis the young Jaguars remain confident in the team's direction.
"The belief in this team is still very strong," Minshew said.
Minshew, speaking to the media via videoconference Wednesday afternoon, discussed multiple topics as the Jaguars (1-3) prepared to play the Houston Texans (0-4) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.
An offense that has looked very good at times this season, but one that both Minshew and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said Wednesday must continue to progress
"We hope that everybody makes a jump," Gruden said. "We're going to have to make a jump. We're 1-3 right now. Offensively, we have to play better: offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends … we all have to do better. One and three is obviously not good enough.
The Jaguars have scored 25 or more points in three of four games this season and are averaging 23.75 points per game this season after averaging 18.8 last season. Gruden also was asked specifically about Minshew, who has completed 106 of 147 passes for 1,138 yards and eight touchdowns with four interceptions.
"If you're talking strictly on the quarterback: 1-3 … usually the record is indicative of quarterback play a lot of times to outsiders," Gruden said. "So, he's got to get better. We expect him to get better. He's a young player. He has great energy, great passion for the game.
"He's got the tools to become better and better each week, but we also have to play better around him and not put him in third-and-long situations and try not to get two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It's our job offensively to make sure we finish drives, keep the game close and that will make our quarterback play a lot better."
Minshew talked extensively about inconsistency Wednesday. He completed 27 of 40 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in a 33-25 loss to the Bengals Sunday, a game in which the Jaguars scored six points in the first quarter, seven in the second and 12 in the fourth.
But the third quarter in Cincinnati hurt on many fronts, with the Bengals outscoring the Jaguars 17-0 in the period. Minshew completed three of eight passes and went one of five on consecutive three-and-out possessions as the Bengals took control of the game.
"We get frustrated, but more than anything we're frustrated because we know what we can be – and we know what we should be doing," Minshew said. "We've seen glimpses of it this year. We've moved the ball fairly consistently, but it's just being even more consistent and not having those drive-killing plays."
Center Brandon Linder, out the past two games with a knee injury sustained in a Week 2 loss at Tennessee, returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday – and kicker Stephen Hauschka, a 13-year veteran who signed with team last week, practiced full after missing the loss to the Bengals with knee soreness. Five players missed practice with injuries Wednesday: cornerback D.J. Hayden (hamstring), defensive end Josh Allen (knee), linebacker Myles Jack (ankle), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) and cornerback CJ Henderson (shoulder); all five players sustained injuries against Cincinnati Sunday, with Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone on Wednesday morning saying all players except Hayden – who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday – had a chance to play against Houston. Three other players missed practice Wednesday: tight end Tyler Eifert (scheduled day off), center Tyler Shatley (not injury related) and offensive tackle Will Richardson Jr. (illness). Wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) practiced limited and three other players on the injury report practiced full: Daniel Ekuale (ankle), linebacker Quincy Williams (core). Williams is on the team's designated-to-return list and remains on injured reserve. Safety Jarrod Wilson (hamstring), who was designated to return from injured reserve Wednesday, worked limited Wednesday.
Gruden on Shenault, who had five receptions for 86 yards against the Bengals and who has 16 receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown for the season: "I think we'll see a lot more. He's going to get better and better the more he does, the more he sees. I can't wait to see him at full, full strength. I think he can get stronger and better and more productive in the passing game - -and obviously the running game. We can utilize him more. He's going to be a factor for this football team for years to come. We're just scratching the surface with him."