No amount of free mustaches or cutoff t-shirts can save Gardner Minshew now. At this point, his future as the Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback, and as a starting quarterback for any team in the NFL moving forward, is tenuous as he regresses to the mean and provides additional reasons why the Jaguars need to tank for Trevor (or whatever quarterback name rhymes with tank).
After Week 1 of this season, and for long stretches of last year, Minshew was the darling of fans both in and outside of Jacksonville. His Jimmy Buffet personality and Uncle Rico look mixed in with the fact that he actually won some games had virtually everyone screaming "Minshew Mania" like he was the fifth Beetle. Even the Jags PR team concocted a way to increase ticket sales by offering 30,000 free fake mustaches to fans so everyone could look just like Minshew in 2019.
The hype died down a bit as Minshew and the Jags slogged their way to a 2-4 record to finish last season, but then the mania surged back into orbit when he threw for 3 touchdowns and completed 95 percent of his passes to lead the Jags to an upset over the Colts in Week 1. Since then, however, he's come plummeting back down to Earth.
In his last three games, Minshew has thrown for four TDs against three INTs and fumbled twice. His passing yards per game has skyrocketed to a 321.6 average, but that's a product of the team always playing from behind. The Jags have lost their last three games and Minshew's turnovers are a big reason why.
Coming into this season, Minshew was auditioning for the full-time starting job for the projected bottom-feeding Jags. He seemingly needed to put together an eye-popping season in order to solidify his position moving forward, especially with star college quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance and Justin Fields expected to headline the 2021 draft.
If you look at the totality of his performance this year, you'd have to say he's done that. A 2-to-1 TD to INT ratio is always good in the NFL. His 72.1 completion percentage is No. 6 in the league this season. His 101.2 QB rating is also in the top half of the league. Now 16 games into his career, you also have to be impressed by the numbers: 7-9 record as a starter on a bad team, 29 TDs, 10 INTs, 275 passing yards per game, and 63.4 percent completion percentage. But is it enough to stave off the desire for someone potentially better like Lawrence?
There are still 12 games for Minshew to showcase why the Jaguars should invest in talent around him and not draft someone to compete against him for the starting role. He's proven capable of winning games and putting up solid stats. But it seems to keep his job he'll need to do more than just be solid. He can't leave any doubts. He must be outstanding. He must reestablish the mania.