The NFL loves to schedule Titans and Jaguars games on Thursday Night Football for some reason. Tomorrow that happens yet again as this year’s matchup occurs in Jacksonville as Tennessee is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Colts.
The Jaguars defense needs no introduction, featuring the likes of Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Josh Allen up front. Who knows if this is Jalen Ramsey’s last game in a Jacksonville uniform though after reports surfaced that he demanded to be traded.
The offense on the other hand is another story. Nick Foles is out for a while, leaving backup and rookie QB Gardner Minshew to take his spot for a while. Since replacing Foles in Week 1 Minshew has completed 77.6% of his passes for 488 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, and a 111.8 passer rating. Not bad for a guy no one had faith in as a prospect.
Minshew’s wardrobe off the field has garnered more attention, but the Titans need to stay focused on the quarterback on the field. Tennessee’s performances have been extremely unpredictable in the Mike Vrabel era, and unfortunately the Titans seem to lose every time I pick them to win. Anyway let’s take a look at the small sample size Minshew has to offer.
Starting with this throw against the Chiefs, we can see Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo calling a nice route combination downfield where the two routes intersect and create an opening for D.J. Chark (who is quietly having an impressive start to the season). Minshew fires it in the area of Chark for a monster pass play.
That’s what’s helped Minshew’s case through the first two games of his career. On a team with little talent in terms of skill players he still hasn’t been asked to do an overwhelming amount, but he’s made the correct decisions without constantly putting the ball into harm’s way. He managed to make the Jaguars look respectable against Patrick freaking Mahomes and had the ball taken out of his hands on a potential game winning 2-point conversion.
The Titans also need to be aware of Minshew’s running ability. So far he has 7 rushes for 62 yards, and has some athleticism on the run, more so than Foles. So the Tennessee defense must not take this part lightly.
Minshew’s tape is limited so we don’t have a good understanding of who he is, but looking through some of his tape against the Texans in Week 2 he had some struggles under pressure.
The Texans manage to create edge pressure on Minshew on this play. As a result he’s forced to get the ball out of his hands just a little bit before he intended to, but Chark is open enough on this play where this isn’t that small of a window to throw to. The placement is wide of Chark and falls to the turf for an incompletion.
The Texans bring a cleverly disguised 5-man rush on this play, confusing the quarterback for a moment. He back pedals on this play to avoid getting hit and as a result of the off balance mechanics he overthrows an open Leonard Fournette on what should have been a huge chunk play for the Jaguars.
So from this small sample size, we can tell that Minshew hasn’t forced turnovers and has also had some struggles throwing accurately in the pocket under pressure. But for the most part he’s a large unknown at this point, and the Titans defense could be the very team to get an idea of how far he can develop in the NFL. I wouldn’t take this as harmless, however, and the Titans need to continue to bring the quality they’ve shown on defense on the road tomorrow.