The Jacksonville Jaguars officially awarded Gardner Minshew the starting job once they traded Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears, but that hasn’t stopped many from believing that the Jaguars aren’t done adding at the quarterback position. With multiple first-round picks, the Jaguars could take a flier on someone late in the opening round, trade for a veteran like Andy Dalton or maybe even sign 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton.
Earlier this week, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette posted (and has since deleted) a picture of himself with Newton on Instagram suggesting that the Jaguars should sign the former Carolina Panthers star. Fournette made his feelings even more public during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” where he laid out why he’d like to see Newton be brought into the fold.
“Cam went to the Super Bowl,” Fournette said, via ESPN.com. “He’s a great guy. I’ve been knowing Cam for a minute now. And like I told some people that talked to me, it’s no disrespect to [Gardner Minshew]. I’m just trying to get in the best position as a team as we can [to] win. That’s all that was about. Just friendly competition ’cause that brings out the best in people.”
While Fournette said that he does not mean to disrespect Minshew, campaigning for your team to sign another starting-caliber quarterback is not exactly the vote of confidence a young signal-caller wants from his running mate in the backfield. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone addressed this situation with Fournette and Newton during Friday’s “Lunch Talk Live” on NBC Sports Network.
“You know, with players, you’re always going to have friends [who say] like, ‘Hey, this guy should come, or that guy should come,’ and you try to talk to the players about talking about the team and doing what is best and keeping a single message, but then a lot of times you’re going to have to be able to communicate in that locker room, I mean that is the big thing with me,” Marrone told Mike Tirico, via Pro Football Talk. “I mean, we all talk about men are all men and everything, when you are in that locker room, you’ve got to say, ‘Hey listen, I said this because I really think this is best for the team,’ and if you can’t say this is what’s best for the team, then you’re going to have issues. … It’s not like a coach can get in between two players and fix something. You know, these things have to be fixed among each other at times and the coach can go in there and try to guide it through.”
It’s unlikely that the Jaguars will sign Newton, but this will still be a situation Minshew and Fournette will have to work through behind closed doors. In his rookie season, Minshew completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The former sixth-round pick out of Washington State proved that he has starting potential, and Marrone clearly is excited for what he will be able to prove in his second season.
“[I]t was exciting because in the beginning, this is well-documented, we weren’t sure if we needed to go out and get a backup quarterback early in the season because of the preseason or we were going to stick with Gardner?” Marrone said. “When Nick [Foles], he unfortunately got hurt early on and [Minshew] came in and played well towards the game plan we were thinking to ourselves, ‘Hey listen, this kid is a lot better than we thought coming into the season,’ and then the second game he started of struggling a little bit against Houston and then really in the last three drives lead us on potential scoring drives late in the game. [Against] Denver he came back in the two-minute situation. It seemed like whenever the pressure was at its highest he performed at his best.”
The window for starting quarterbacks to prove themselves is slim, however, so Minshew may absolutely have to build on his rookie season in 2020.