JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — When asked about finishing with numbers similar to those posted by the first two quarterbacks drafted this year, Gardner Minshew interrupted the question with one correction: “better.”
A sixth-round pick and the 10th quarterback selected in April, Minshew clearly feels good about what he accomplished as a rookie.
“I know what I am. I know I’m going to be a great quarterback in this league,” Minshew said Monday. “I think we’re going to build something great here.”
Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) head into the offseason with more optimism at the position than they’ve had in years. There’s uncertainty surrounding coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell, but Minshew may have ended the team’s decades-long search for a franchise QB.
He completed 61% of his passes for 3,271 yards, with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in 14 games. He went 6-6 in 12 starts, earning more wins than Arizona’s Kyler Murray (5) and the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones (3). Murray threw for more yards and had fewer turnovers; Jones had three more TD passes.
“The biggest thing for me is helping my team win, and I did that better than any rookie quarterback, so that gets me fired up a little bit,” Minshew said. “You kind of can’t help but compare yourself to those guys, especially when they get taken before you. You can always have that chip.
“I still remember guys that got offered to schools I wanted to go to and I didn’t get those opportunities.”
Nick Foles won’t soon forget his first season in Jacksonville.
Foles, the 2017 Super Bowl MVP who signed a four-year, $88 million contract in free agency, broke his left collarbone in the opener, missed eight games and then got benched in his third game back. His wife also revealed in May she had a miscarriage after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“It’s been a roller-coaster,” Foles said. “There’s been a lot happening this last year in our lives. It’s one of those things where there’s been so much happened that it’s important to get away, just take a breath and see from afar everything I’ve learned, everything we went through, the goods, the bads, the ugly.”
The 30-year-old Foles considered giving up football following the 2015 season, but said Monday he plans to come out “slinging” in 2020.
“I know I can still play,” he said. “There’s people out there that believe in me, and I know what I can do, I’ve shown what I can do. I look forward to what the future holds. Obviously getting away, refreshing myself, getting ready to roll. I’ll be ready to fire away.”
Owner Shad Khan is scheduled to meet with Marrone and Caldwell on Tuesday, with the belief that Khan wants to see how they plan to fix the problems before making any decisions regarding their futures. If Khan likes what he hears, he could bring both back for a go without top executive Tom Coughlin. Khan fired Coughlin last week, essentially blaming the two-time Super Bowl winning coach with the toxicity that’s built up within the organization.
Marrone and Caldwell have two years remaining on their contracts.
Marrone is 23-28 in three seasons. It’s become clear he’s not enamored of the roster, which lacks talent and depth on both sides of the ball.
“It’s just a matter of, ‘Does it make sense? Is it right?'” Marrone said following a 38-20 win over Indianapolis in the finale. “Obviously, I’m not going to communicate that here. That’s for a private conversation, ‘This is the way I feel. This is what we have to do. This is what I need.’
“Express those opinions, and if it is the right direction, then I’m the right person for the job. If it isn’t, then I’m not. That’s the case no matter what. That’s the case in coaching wherever.”
Veteran Calais Campbell, who capped his 12th NFL season with his fifth Pro Bowl, plans to play in 2020. The 33-year-old defensive end and team captain finished with 57 tackles, including 6 1/2 sacks, and scored a touchdown in the finale.
“I don’t know how many more years I’m going to play,” he said Monday. “I know I want to play another one, that’s for sure. I still got a lot of football in me. It used to be my goal was 15 (years). I definitely feel like I have one more year of playing at a high level. I might have a few more, but I definitely got one more.”
HOW TO GET IT RIGHT
Regardless of what happens with Marrone and Caldwell, the Jaguars are poised to add key pieces with four first-round draft picks over the next two years. They have the ninth and 20th selections in 2020, with holes at left tackle, nose tackle, cornerback, linebacker, receiver, safety and tight end.
Jacksonville is $1 million over next year’s projected salary cap, but could save nearly $60 million by cutting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, center Brandon Linder, linebacker Jake Ryan, receiver Marqise Lee and tight end Geoff Swaim.
Dareus, Ryan and Swaim have little chance of returning.
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