JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew II is staying strong.
Yes, the Jaguars have struggled in recent weeks – and the second-year quarterback has had his share of struggles during that time, too. Yes, a five-game losing streak is difficult.
But no, Minshew hasn't lost faith – either in himself or the Jaguars' direction overall.
"It's these trials that produce perseverance, and that produce endurance," Minshew said late Wednesday afternoon as the Jaguars (1-5) prepared to play the Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
"There's no shortcut to get there. You don't have all easy times and then everything just all of a sudden is just going to work out for you."
The Jaguars, after a strong start to the season offensively with 28.5 points in Weeks 1 and 2, have averaged 15 points a game in the last four games. They also have struggled in the red zone the last two weeks, with four of their nine possessions inside the 20 during that span ending with no points.
Minshew this season past Sunday passed for a touchdown with an interception and a lost fumble in a 34-16 loss to the Detroit Lions. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, asked about Minshew Wednesday, said his counsel to the young quarterback has been: "Keep preparing."
"There's a lot on a quarterback's plate and he's a young player," Gruden said. "He's continuing to learn and grasp it. We don't expect perfection right now. We're going to have growing pains here and there. It's our job to try to protect him and put him in the best situation as possible."
Frustration has been a topic among Jaguars observers and players this week, with Minshew during his weekly videoconference Wednesday saying: "Sometimes, you have to go through these tough spots."
"We're growing a lot as a team right now and I really do believe we're going to come out better on the other side of this," Minshew said. "It's easy to get frustrated. It's sometimes hard to find the bright side of the things. That's what we have to do. That's what we are doing right now.
"We have everybody trying to pull together, trying to find solutions – we've had some great conversations already this week – and getting back to that excitement that we were playing with earlier in the year."
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone on Wednesday discussed the loss of defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who the New York Giants on Tuesday signed to their active roster from the Jaguars' practice squad. Sheard, a 10-year veteran, signed to the Jaguars' practice squad October 12 and had two quarterback hurries and a pass defensed in a 34-16 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday. Sheard played that game elevated from the practice squad under the NFL's COVID-19 rules allowing practice-squad players to be active in game. "Jabaal, he's a veteran guy, he's been around a long time," Marrone said. "[The] thought process was, 'Hey, let's bring him in just to make sure we cover ourselves with [second-year defensive end] Josh Allen being out.' He played eight snaps [against Detroit] and then we looked at, 'Okay, well Josh is going to be coming back, so how can we get him snaps and keep [defensive ends] K'Lavon [Chaisson] going and [Dawuane] Smoot and a couple of the other guys?' So, we couldn't really guarantee a lot of snaps and a veteran guy is going to make a move where he can go there [New York Giants] and get increased playing time."
The Jaguars rushed for a season-low 44 yards against Detroit, with a major reason being the Lions' approach of using a "Bear" defense with eight and sometimes nine defenders playing close to the line of scrimmage. Gruden said the Jaguars tried to force the run early without much success, adding: "They were basically daring us to throw it. We probably should have gone to the pass a little bit sooner and let the pass set up the run as the game went on. They did a great job, so hat's off to Detroit." Gruden said a similar approach can be expected from the Chargers and former Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, now the Chargers' defensive coordinator: "I think this week you'll see a lot of loaded boxes. They're going to give you seven [defenders] in the box in 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back] and eight in the box in your regular and two-tight-end and three-tight-end sets. We're going to have to get them blocked."
Minshew: "Football, at the end of the day, is execution – who can execute more consistently. That's something we're still working on."