It may be awhile before Washington State fans are able to turn on their television again and see Gardner Minshew starting in the NFL again.
The ex-Cougar quarterback-turned-rookie phenom has conceded his job to Nick Foles, who’s been cleared to play and will start for the Jacksonville Jaguars next week at Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone confirmed Tuesday.
“Nick will be our starting quarterback going forward and it was obviously my decision,” Marrone said. “Worked hard on it, came to it, brought both players in this morning. Spoke to both of them. After I spoke to the players, then obviously I wanted to make sure I spoke to the team.”
Foles, the club’s $88 million franchise quarterback, has been out the last eight games with a broken collarbone and hasn’t played since going down in the the first half of the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Since then, “Minshew Mania” has taken over Duval County in Florida and on a larger scale, the entire NFL, much the same way it did last year in Pullman and eastern Washington.
The former WSU signal-caller, who spent one charmed year in Pullman, leading the Cougars to a program-record 11 wins while winning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors, was taken by the Jaguars in the sixth round of the NFL Draft and claimed the backup job after taking more than half of the team’s QB reps during the preseason.
“I think Gardner’s a competitor, I think what he’s done, he’s done a great job,” Marrone said. “I feel a whole lot different about him now than I did about him playing, in a very positive way. We took some things and had some discussions on things that we’re going to work on going forward, which will give him the ability to be a player in this league for a very long time. I really believe that.”
Minshew was then thrown into the season opener against Kansas City and played admirably given the circumstances, completing 22-of-25 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 40-26 loss.
He nearly led the Jaguars to a comeback win over the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium the following week, connecting on 23-of-33 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown in a 13-12 loss. Minshew drove Jacksonville down the field and punched in a touchdown with less than a minute to go, but Leonard Fournette came up just short on the two-point conversion.
The Brandon, Mississippi, native went 4-4 in his eight starts with the Jaguars, picking up wins over the Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets. He completed 188-of-307 passes (61.2 percent) for 2,285 yards and threw 13 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Minshew was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Week after six of his eight starts.
The former WSU QB also ran for 235 yards, but he lost seven of his 11 fumbles.
Though some reported Minshew was auditioning for his job last Sunday against the Texans in London, Marrone said that wasn’t the case. Minshew went just 27-of-47 for 309 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 26-3 loss.
“I tried to take that out and put it as a body of work, I think that’s important,” Marrone said. “I think emotions can run differently, so I looked at the body of work.”