JACKSONVILLE – This is a weird one to explain.
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II somehow, someway was not nominated for the NFL's Pepsi Rookie of the Year award for the 2019 season – and if you're into such awards, it was as odd an omission as is imaginable.
Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, not only finished with more victories than any other rookie quarterback, he was named the NFL's Pepsi Rookie of the Week seven times.
If that seems like a lot, it's because it is a lot.
Not only did Minshew's seven such honors lead the league, no other rookie this season won the award more than once. Minshew also had comparable – if not better – statistics than two other rookie starting quarterbacks, Daniel Jones of the New York Giants and Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals. Minshew had 21 touchdown passes with six interceptions whereas Jones had 24 and 12 with Murray finishing with 20 and 12 respectively.
It was mentioned to Minshew the Monday following the regular-season finale he had similar numbers to Murray and Jones, players selected Nos. 1 and 6 overall in the draft.
"Better," he said, adding: "Obviously I think the biggest thing for me is helping my team win. I did that better than any rookie quarterback, so that gets me fired up a little bit."
And, yes: Minshew said he was aware of Jones and Murray this season.
"You can't help but compare yourself to those guys, especially when they get taken before you," he said. "You kind of always have that chip. I still remember guys who got offered to schools I wanted to go to. I didn't get those opportunities, so I remember that. You take that with a grain of salt."
Minshew at least deserved a nomination, and it's hard to imagine an NFL rookie more deserving of the award this season.
One of the more intriguing parts of the media availability of Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell last Tuesday came when the duo discussed the team's relationship with the NFL Players Association. That relationship has been a focus since the NFLPA in late December sent a memo to players criticizing the team for excessive fines, with Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin being relieved of his duties two days later. Marrone had said during the season he planned to discuss the matter with the NFLPA, and he reiterated that Tuesday. "How do they feel about us right now?" Marrone said. "I believe, and I can't speak for them, that it's a positive light. I've always opened up things for them to come in here." Marrone said as a former player who went on strike as a member of the union, he often discusses the union's importance with players – and that he feels strongly about the organization's importance. "Moving forward, I feel very confident," Marrone said. "I don't think that we'll get a statement from them or anything of that nature. That's not what I'm looking for, but I think both parties, at least from my standpoint as the head football coach and the [NFL]PA, I know they never have to worry about the way I treat the players." Caldwell: "As far as the last five or six years, we've made it a priority of making Jacksonville a destination team to come to, and we have not had an issue signing any player that we put our sights on to get here and I don't think that's going to change."
SPEAKING OF SNUBS …
While his multiple rookie-of-the-week honors made Minshew's omission from the Rookie-of-the-Year nominees odd, Jaguars rookie defensive end Josh Allen's exclusion also was notable. Only one defensive player was included in the nominees: San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who finished with nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss with 25 quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Allen finished with 10.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
… AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT
Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo was named Associated Press second-team All-Pro, and any spot on the AP All-Pro team ranks as one of the NFL's most-prestigious honors. But an argument can be made for Lambo as first-team kicker. He converted 33 of 34 field goals for a league-high 97.1 conversion rate, and he also was eight of nine from 40-to-49 yards and four of four from 50 or more yards. The first-team kicker, Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens, is widely considered the NFL's best kicker; he finished converting 28 of 29 field goals this season with 10-of-11 made from 40-to-49 and one of one made from 50 or more. Tucker did nothing wrong and had a great season, but Lambo was statistically better.
Caldwell on balancing building for the future with drafting to win now: "We want to give the coaches every avenue to succeed this year, but we also want to have that balance of what's best for the long term. When you're looking at the first round or the second round or the third round, I think you can find players to fill both needs and take the best player available. That generally helps you with that, barring it's a position of value, and I think that's usually what we can do."