Over the past five years, as the Jaguars have searched for a franchise quarterback, they have:
- Selected a quarterback with the third-overall draft pick.
- Selected a quarterback with the 201st-overall draft pick.
- Selected a quarterback with the 203rd-overall draft pick.
- Handed a quarterback, who also happens to be a Super Bowl MVP, a four-year, $88 million contract in free agency.
- Selected a quarterback with the 178th-overall draft pick.
Their process of identifying their franchise quarterback might've been flawed. It might've been problematic. It might've been exhaustive. It might've taken forever. But finally, the Jaguars have found their quarterback of today and tomorrow. His name is Gardner Minshew, he played college ball at East Carolina and Washington State, and he wasn't drafted in the first round or given a lucrative deal in free agency. He's the aforementioned 178th-overall pick of this year's draft, he wasn't supposed to be playing meaningful football this year, if ever, and as a rookie, he's already established himself as the Jaguars' franchise quarterback.
Since Nick Foles -- he who signed that aforementionedthis offseason -- , Minshew has:
- completed 61.9 percent of his passes (24th).
- averaged 7.6 yards per attempt (14th).
- thrown 13 touchdowns (tied for 10th).
- thrown two interceptions (tied for 31st).
- posted a 98.8 passer rating (11th).
- been the 11th best quarterback by DYAR.
- been the 10th best quarterback by DVOA.
- been the 24th best quarterback by QBR.
- led the Jaguars to a 4-3 record as a starter.
None of those numbers will necessarily blow anyone away, but it's important to remember that he was a sixth-round pick six months ago. He's still developing and adjusting to the NFL just like every other rookie. Look at how much the sixth-overall pick, Daniel Jones, and the 15th-overall pick, Dwayne Haskins, are struggling. The point being, there's a very good chance that this version of Minshew isn't the final version. Updates should be coming.
He wasn't supposed to play. But not only is he playing, he's playing like the best rookie quarterback in football -- even better than the top-overall pick, Kyler Murray. I'm not saying that if we redid this year's draft that Minshew would be the first-overall pick or even the first quarterback selected, but there's a very reasonable argument to be made that he'd be the second quarterback taken behind only Murray.
After starting the season with five stellar outings that, Minshew finally met resistance in Weeks 6 and 7, when he completed under 48 percent of his passes, averaged only 6.9 yards per attempt, threw one touchdown and one interception, and generated a passer rating of 68.9. It was enough to wonder if maybe those first five games were a bit of a mirage, if this was the new normal, and if Foles should get his starting job back when he's healthy.
And then Sunday happened and the whole debate became a moo point. Minshew is the Jaguars' best option in both the short and long term. In a win over the Jets that kept the 4-4 Jaguars very much alive in the AFC South, Minshew completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 279 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 119.6 passer rating. It wasn't just about the numbers he deposited. It was also about the way in which he went about depositing them.
It wasn't all simple checkdowns and screens and wide-open passes (though there was a ton of that). Minshew also created openings himself.
.@GardnerMinshew5 dances around and finds @DJChark82!— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2019
Another touchdown in #DUUUVAL county! #NYJvsJAX
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Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/a16R5wPShJpic.twitter.com/JV6kJCq7xD
Those are, dare I say, Mahomes- and Rodgers-esque type of plays. That doesn't mean Minshew is on their level yet. He still has some noticeable flaws (substandard arm strength). He's already fumbled nine times. It just means he deserves praise for all that he's done so far. And he deserves to keep his job even when Foles is healthy.
Obviously, it's Minshew himself who deserves the credit for his surprising emergence and ascent. But let's also take a moment to commend the Jaguars -- yes, the same team that drafted Blake Bortles and stuck with him one season too long, and passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in order to take Leonard Fournette -- for finding Minshew. Did the Jaguars know Minshew would be this good? Of course not. If they had known, they wouldn't have wasted all that money on Foles in free agency and they wouldn't have waited until the 178th pick to draft him.
What the Jaguars deserve credit for is being willing to take multiple shots in the dark. Minshew was the third quarterback the Jaguars have drafted in the sixth round since 2016. The first two, Brandon Allen (who will start his first NFL game for the Broncos on Sunday) and Tanner Lee, obviously didn't amount to anything. But they also didn't cost the Jaguars much. The Jaguars, to their credit, understood that the potential rewards outweighed the costs by a significant margin. So, they kept firing shots in the dark until they actually hit something. Again, along the way, they made mistakes. The Foles contract never made sense. They took Fournette, a running back, over two generational quarterbacks. But for finding Minshew, the Jaguars deserve credit. They might not have known what he would become. Nobody -- well, except Mike Leach maybe -- could've known. But they took him because they understood there existed a slim chance he could become something and knew that the slim chance was worth taking.
Now, they need to avoid making a mistake that would render all of this pointless. They need to make sure he keeps the starting job over Foles.
On that note, welcome to the Week 9 edition of quarterback power rankings. Before we begin, a reminder of the rules:
- One quarterback per team. Whichever quarterback started in Week 8 will be the quarterback selected. So you'll find Joe Flacco listed for the Broncos this week. Next week, you'll find Brandon Allen.
- Recent success matters more than past success. These are power rankings. That's why you won't see Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, at No. 1. We're valuing performances this season more than performances in previous seasons. We're valuing performances last week more than performances four weeks ago. As a result, don't be surprised if the rankings fluctuate in a major way each week.
- But reputation and history do matter, because they're tools we're using to predict future success. All-time greats get a bit of a boost.
- There's more to the rankings than wins and losses. Wins are not a quarterback stat. While we're definitely taking into account wins and losses, it's not the only thing that matters. You'll see a ton of other stats listed -- like DYAR, DVOA, and QBR. For an explainer on those stats, click right here. Yes, the eye test matters too.
Onto the rankings.
Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks QB
| Against a shambolic Falcons team, Wilson wasn't asked to do much. The Seahawks leapt out to a 24-0 lead and salted away the game from there. As a result, Wilson attempted only 20 passes, but he did average 9.1 yards per attempt, throw two touchdowns to go along with zero interceptions, and generate 131.7 passer rating. That's good enough for him to remain atop the leaderboard. Halfway through the season, Wilson is the league's MVP. |
Last week: 1
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
| Jackson was on his bye, so it was difficult to move him up or down. Up next is his toughest test of the season: A Patriots defense that has scored more points than it's allowed. |
Last week: 2
Deshaun Watson Houston Texans QB
| New rule: If you get kicked in the eye and then, on the same play, throw an incredible touchdown pass, you automatically get bumped up the list. Watson struggled from a statistical standpoint in Weeks 6 and 7, but he got back to posting gaudy numbers on Sunday, throwing three touchdowns in a win over the Raiders. The Texans lost J.J. Watt to a season-ending injury, but as long as Watson is healthy, they'll always have a chance to win. |
Last week: 6
Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions QB
| Stafford continues to play the best football of his career in an offensive system that is letting him throw the ball downfield with his God-given arm. He threw a bad interception against the Giants, but he also went 25 of 32 for 342 yards (10.7 yards per attempt), three touchdowns, and a 129.4 passer rating. By DYAR, he ranks fourth. By DVOA, he ranks third -- one spot ahead of Wilson. And by QBR, he ranks fifth. If the Lions hadn't blown a couple of winnable games (yes, the officials have contributed to that as well), Stafford would be an MVP candidate. Once again, I can't move down below the fourth position. |
Last week: 4
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
| Here's what Rodgers has done the past two weeks: completed 75 percent of his passes, averaged 367 passing yards per game, thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions, rushed for another touchdown, and accumulated a 152.0 passer rating. But I couldn't move him above Stafford, because Stafford has been better over the course of the entire season, which bears out in the statistics. Stafford ranks ahead of Rodgers in DYAR, DVOA, and QBR. |
Last week: 5
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
| Not much movement for Prescott after the Cowboys' bye week. But it's worth reiterating that we're probably not giving him enough credit for his level of play. He's second in both DVOA and DYAR, and first in QBR. He deserves some MVP love. |
Last week: 7
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints QB
| Talk about a triumphant return. In his first start since Week 2, Brees tore up the Cardinals for 373 yards and three touchdowns, leaving no doubt that the Saints absolutely were in the right to sit Teddy Bridgewater for Brees. Expect Brees to continue climbing the leaderboard. |
Last week: N/A
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
| Like Wilson, Cousins really didn't have to do much in Week 8, when the Vikings won a very boring football game over the Redskins. But here's what he's done in his past four starts: completed 78.5 percent of his passes for 315.3 yards per game, 10 total touchdowns and only interception, and a 137.1 passer rating. If the Vikings keep piling up wins and eventually overtake the Packers in the NFC North, Cousins, who leads the league in yards per attempt, will invade the MVP conversation. |
Last week: 8
Tom Brady New England Patriots QB
| The Patriots defense continues to overshadow the fact that the Patriots' offense really hasn't been that great. New England is 15th in offensive DVOA, one spot ahead of a Chargers team that just fired its offensive coordinator. It's not that Brady has been bad, but he just hasn't been great. He hasn't needed to be great, so it hasn't really mattered, at least not yet. |
Last week: 9
Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles QB
| Wentz leaps back into the top-10 after he helped the Eagles earn a huge win over a Bills team that some considered to be the second best team in the AFC. Against the league's now sixth-best pass defense by Football Outsiders' metrics, Wentz threw for 172 yards and a score, and avoided turning the ball over. It feels like Wentz's season is being overlooked. He's thrown 10 more touchdowns than interceptions, is posting the lowest interception rate of his career, and has been the league's sixth-best quarterback by QBR. |
Last week: 13
Gardner Minshew Jacksonville Jaguars QB
| He deserves to be considered the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year. We'll see if he can hold off Kyler Murray in the second half of the season. |
Last week: 14
Jacoby Brissett Indianapolis Colts QB
| Brissett actually didn't play particularly well for the vast majority of the Colts' win over the Broncos. But give him credit for engineering a game-winning drive by eluding what should've been a sack and turning it into a 35-yard completion to T.Y. Hilton. |
Last week: 11
Jimmy Garoppolo San Francisco 49ers QB
| As is also the case with Brady, Garoppolo's decent, but not great level of play hasn't mattered because his defense is just that good. What helps Garoppolo is that he's playing in Kyle Shanahan's system and Shanahan continues to brilliantly scheme up openings. Even still, Garoppolo is only 18th in DYAR, 16th in DVOA, and ninth in QBR. |
Last week: 16
Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans QB
| Credit where it's due: Tannehill has played well since taking over as the Titans' starter. In two starts, he's completed 71 percent of his passes, averaged 8.2 yards per attempt, thrown five touchdowns and one interception, and posted a 115.3 passer rating. Oh, and the Titans are 2-0 with Tannehill as their starter. Go watch his touchdown pass to Tajae Sharpe, because it's as well thrown of a red zone pass you'll see all season. |
Last week: 20
Jared Goff Los Angeles Rams QB
| The last two weeks have presented remarkably favorable matchups for Goff in the form of the Falcons and the Bengals, two of the league's three worst defenses by DVOA. So it should come as no surprise to hear he's thrown for 640 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 108.7 passer rating in that span. Questions and concerns will persist until Goff plays well against a good defense. Advanced metrics construe him as an average quarterback (15th in DYAR, 19th in DVOA, and 25th in QBR), and so does the eye test. |
Last week: 19
Derek Carr Oakland Raiders QB
| I -- a noted Carr critic -- actually think Carr is playing better football than he's getting credit for. It's certainly not his fault the Raiders lost to the Texans. He threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns. For most of his career, Carr's been criticized by many (again, including me) for his lack of efficiency. In the first five years of his career, he averaged only 6.7 yards per attempt. This year, he's up to 7.7 yards per attempt, which ranks 10th among qualified quarterbacks. |
Last week: 21
Philip Rivers Los Angeles Chargers QB
| More of the same for Rivers. Even though the Chargers beat the Bears, they didn't beat the Bears because of their offense, which slogged its way to 17 points. The next day, the Chargers fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Rivers continues to post pedestrian numbers. He's averaging nearly a full yard fewer per attempt than last season and his 3.9 touchdown rate would be the lowest of his career since he became the Chargers' starter. |
Last week: 15
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB
| Murray still struggles at some point in every game. He also still flashes the characteristics that made him the top pick in every game. It's been a promising, but inconsistent season for Murray. But the Cardinals have exceeded expectations at 3-4-1. Don't be too hard on him for struggling against a good Saints defense. |
Last week: 18
Matt Moore Kansas City Chiefs QB
| This is way more about Andy Reid than it is about Moore, but since Moore was the one who threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns against a good Packers defense, he's the one who gets to rank in the top-20. Reid dialed up the perfect game-plan for Moore, letting him get the ball out quickly and into the arms of his speedy weapons, but Moore also made a few nice downfield throws. The fact of the matter is that Moore went punch for punch with Aaron Rodgers. Moore actually deserved a chance to go tie the game at the end, but Reid bungled the end of the game so disastrously that he never got the chance. |
Last week: N/A
Matt Schaub Atlanta Falcons QB
| Making his first start since 2015, Schaub proceeded to throw for 460 yards in a loss to the Seahawks. 460 yards. By Matt Schaub. In the year 2019. |
Last week: N/A
Kyle Allen Carolina Panthers QB
| Finally, Allen came crashing back down to earth in an entirely predictable result. The 49ers' defense would be the story of the season if not for the Patriots' even better defense. Sure enough, Allen got crushed by the 49ers, throwing three interceptions and taking seven sacks. Allen entered the game with zero interceptions in the first five starts of his career. |
Last week: 17
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns QB
| He got intercepted on a shovel pass by a defensive lineman. He's tied with Jameis Winston for the most interceptions. He's certainly not the biggest problem in Cleveland, but he's a big reason why the Browns have failed to meet expectations. He can't keep turning the ball over at this rate and expect his team to overcome his mistakes. |
Last week: 23
Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
| Bruce Arians can say all he wants about who's really to blame for Winston's interceptions. The fact of the matter is that Winston is tied for the league lead in picks. Since he entered the league in 2015 as the top pick, he's thrown 70 interceptions. Philip Rivers has thrown the second most interceptions in that span, but he's seven shy of matching Winston's total. In short, Winston is a turnover machine. That has more to do with him than anyone else. |
Last week: 22
Daniel Jones New York Giants QB
| After an ugly early turnover, Jones responded against the Lions and submitted his best performance since his first start five weeks ago. Throwing for 322 yards and four touchdowns in a loss, Jones reminded Giants fans that they might have a reason to be optimistic about the future. |
Last week: 29
Case Keenum Washington Redskins QB
| Case Keenum is still Case Keenum. He's not good enough to overcome just how terrible his supporting cast is in Washington, but he's not bad enough to be blamed for the Redskins' woes. He actually played better than expected against the Vikings before he was forced to depart with an injury. |
Last week: 28
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
| I say this every week and I'll say it again: If the Bills are going to make a postseason run, they need more consistency out of their quarterback who sometimes looks like a better running back than quarterback. He's 30th in DVOA and DYAR, and 31st in QBR. In the Bills' loss to the Eagles -- a team with one of the league's worst secondaries -- he completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and fumbled three times. |
Last week: 24
Ryan Fitzpatrick Miami Dolphins QB
| Fitzpatrick is just good enough that he makes the Dolphins competitive for at least a half and he's just bad enough to ensure the Dolphins won't ruin their tank job by accidentally winning a game. |
Last week: 26
Joe Flacco Denver Broncos QB
| Maybe the reason why the Broncos don't feel comfortable being aggressive on offense is because they know they have a bad quarterback, who stands as still as a statue behind a bad offensive line. |
Last week: 27
Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals QB
| And with that, the sun has set on the Andy Dalton era in Cincinnati. Dalton's not the reason why the Bengals are challenging the Dolphins for the top pick in next year's draft, but he's not the kind of quarterback who's good enough to overcome a difficult situation and thus, he doesn't really fit the Bengals' timeline anymore. He's good enough to get a chance to start somewhere else next year like, say, Chicago. Until then, adieu. |
Last week: 25
Mitchell Trubisky Chicago Bears QB
| In the aftermath of the Bears' loss to the Chargers, so much of the attention has been focused on Matt Nagy refusing to run another play before attempting a game-winning field goal and the missed field goal itself. But really, the game turned when Trubisky missed a wide-open deep touchdown and fumbled on the next play, which the Chargers turned into the game-winning touchdown. Even though he looked marginally better throwing the ball, Trubisky was still the reason the Bears lost. |
Last week: 30
Mason Rudolph Pittsburgh Steelers QB
| Rudolph looked like he operating in slow motion against the NFL's worst defense on Monday night, but to his credit, after he threw one of the worst interceptions of the season in the early going, he made a couple decent throws down the sideline. Still, Ben Roethlisberger can rest easy at night knowing Rudolph has no chance of stealing his job. |
Last week: N/A
Sam Darnold New York Jets QB
| He's been picked off seven times in the last two weeks. Cue the Ghostbusters theme. |
Last week: 31