What role will Minshew Mania play in Philadelphia?
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
Gardner Minshew has officially been traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a conditional 6th round draft pick that could become a 5th rounder based on playing time. This news came very shortly after head coach Urban Meyer announced that first overall pick Trevor Lawrence would be the day one starter for the Jags. There was apparently a “quarterback competition” in camp but let’s be honest, it was always going to be Lawrence named as the starter. He is a generational talent that has been labeled “the best QB prospect of all time” by several professional scouts.
The official announcement is what made Minshew available via trade and the Eagles organization did not waste much time in acquiring him. In a corresponding move, third-string QB Nick Mullens was released from the team. Minshew will now likely serve as the backup to starter Jalen Hurts entering the 2021 NFL season but his role could actually mean more than just that. He has proven to be a capable player and has the ability to push Hurts and serve as an alternative option if things don’t work out as planned.
Gardner Minshew: Exceeding Expectations
Though his two seasons with the Jaguars were not great, Minshew demonstrated that he is a capable quarterback at the NFL level. In 23 total games played, he completed 63 percent of his passes for 5530 yards and 37 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions. While these numbers are mediocre, it’s fairly impressive considering the circumstances. He was only a 6th round draft pick out of Washington State and was considered more of a development project at best. He far exceeded those initial expectations and did it on a team with very little offensive talent surrounding him. Furthermore, he lacks the overall athleticism and arm talent of a typical NFL quarterback so it’s encouraging that he was able to overcome that and still find success.
Expected Role with the Eagles
Considering the very low price tag that the Eagles gave up to get him, this trade makes perfect sense for them. He is a safer option than anything they could draft in the 5th or 6th round because he has already proven that he can play at the professional level. The only other quarterback on the roster, besides Hurts, is Joe Flacco. His best days are long behind him and probably are never coming back considering he is already 36 years old. With the Eagles being a rebuilding team right now, Minshew makes a ton more sense than Flacco does as a back up. If the Hurts plan does not work out the way they want it too, they now have a realistic second option in Minshew.
This concept can also provide extra motivation for Hurts now that he knows there is a true backup on the roster behind him instead of just a roster filler and emergency replacement like Flacco. Hurts was decent last season, but he will have to progress as a player this year to gain the confidence from the Eagles organization that he is their long-term solution at quarterback. Last year in his rookie campaign, Hurts eventually took over the starting job from the disaster that was Carson Wentz. Hurts started the final four games of the season but appeared in 15 games total, completing 52 percent of his passes for 1061 yards and six touchdowns against four interceptions.
Based on passing statistics alone, Minshew actually has a much better track record so far. Granted it’s an extremely small sample size for Hurts, but that is definitely something to keep an eye on. Hurts will have to improve his passing numbers this season to show that he can be a starting quarterback moving forward. The thing that Hurts brings to the table that Minshew lacks is athleticism and in particular the ability to contribute in the rushing game. Hurts recorded 63 rushing attempts for 354 yards and three touchdowns last season in his limited role with the team and are expected to be a part of the rushing attack this season by design. In conclusion, Hurts will definitely begin the season as the starting quarterback, but the Eagles now have a “real backup plan” if he does not develop his passing game the way they hope he will.