Why Gardner Minshew would be a great fit in Seattle's offense
When the 2021 draft finally rolls around on Thursday, April 29, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have the first overall pick. And unless Urban Meyer and his crew want to drop a major surprise on all of us, the Jaguars will use that pick to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who may be as “generational” a talent at the position as we’ve seen in quite some time. It’s a good move for the Jaguars, who are trying to improve in all ways after a 1-15 season in 2020. But it does leave one Gardner Flint Minshew II a bit in the lurch. Selected with the 178th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2019 draft out of Washington State, Minshew has had his ups and downs over two NFL seasons, but if you’re looking for a credible spot starter or high-level backup, he certainly qualifies, and he’s also shown the potential to do more. Minshew has completed 62.9% of his passes over those two NFL seasons for 5,537 yards, 37 touchdowns, and just 11 interceptions. Of the five quarterbacks selected in the 2019 draft who have played at least 20% of their teams’ snaps in 2020, Minshew ranks first overall in passer rating (95.9), second to Kyler Murray in yards per attempt (6.9 to Murray’s 7.1), second in touchdowns with 16 to Murray’s 26, and he threw the fewest interceptions with five. Nobody is suggesting at this point that the Jaguars are picking Lawrence at the expense of a guy in Minshew who could set the NFL on fire (at least, nobody’s suggesting it yet), but Minshew has proven to have viable traits at the position that are transferable to NFL offenses against NFL defenses. Recently, Ian Furness of Seattle radio station KJR talked with Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN’s NFL Matchup, and Cosell suggested that Minshew would be an ideal quarterback for the offense of the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll’s team seems to have beaten back the idea that the schism between Russell Wilson and the team’s coaching staff is pronounced enough to force the team to move Wilson, but even if that’s the case, the Seahawks could always use a better backup. And Minshew would certainly qualify. Seattle’s current backup quarterback is Geno Smith, who has attempted exactly 101 passes total since 2015. “I think Pete, in an ideal world, is old-school.” Cosell said. “He wants his offense to be efficient, he wants to run the football, he wants the pass game and the run game to work together, he wants to eat clock… I think he wants the offense to control the pace and tempo of the game with big-play opportunities that develop from that. He wants to have a good defense that can also control the game. I don’t think that Pete generally thinks in terms of, ‘I want to toss it around the yard.’ “It’s just the style. Minshew is not going to be a top 3 quarterback in the league. But I thought after his 2019 season that he could be a quality starter, with certain caveats. He needs a good run game. He needs a good offensive line. He needs weapons along the perimeter. Seattle has all of this. He needs a solid defense. I know Seattle would like to improve its defense, but it’s not a bottom of the barrel defense. It needs to get better, but it’s not a terrible defense. But that style of quarterback would fit how Pete sees the game. Does that mean he wants him ahead of Russell Wilson? I’m not saying that, but we’re playing it out as if Russell’s not there.” It’s an interesting construct if you look at how Minshew has succeeded in the NFL. The Seahawks like getting big plays out of their play-action game, and last season, Minshew completed 42 of 57 play-action passes for 474 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, four touchdowns, and one interceptions. And on throws of 20 or more air yards, Minshew completed 15 of 43 attempts for 430 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. And while Minshew doesn’t have Wilson’s running and second-reaction ability, he has rushed 96 times in his NFL career for 497 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Minshew has shown the consistent ability to make tight-window throws downfield, as he showed on this 28-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Conley against the Chargers in Week 7 of the 2020 season. We don’t yet know what the Jaguars have planned for Minshew, but whether he stays or goes in Jacksonville, there are some interesting things about his game that project well to future success. Perhaps the Seahawks might avail themselves of those things.