The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't just lose their season-opener to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. They also lost starting quarterback Nick Foles for an extended period of time after he in the first quarter of Jacksonville's 40-26 loss.
Replacing Foles in the lineup Sunday was rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who went 22 of 25 for 275 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against Kansas City's defense.
While Jacksonville still suffered a double-digit loss, Minshew's performance should offer encouragement to Jaguars fans going into next Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.
"A lot of guys made plays for me today," Minshew told the media following Sunday's game, per Theo Lawson of The Spokesman Review. "A lot of tough catches were made out there today. We got some things we gotta fix, but we did some stuff that we get to build off of, too."
You can watch the replay, including in condensed and all-22 formats, with NFL Game Pass.
So, who is Minshew? Let us tell you his story.
After a stellar high school career that saw him quarterback his high school team to a Mississippi South 6A championship, Minshew graduated early to attend Troy on an academic scholarship before transferring to Northwest Mississippi Community College. He enjoyed immediate success at NMCC, leading the Rangers to an NJCAA National Football Championship. Minshew threw for 3,228 yards that season while completing nearly 61 percent of his passes.
Minshew spent the next two years at East Carolina University, playing in 17 games and throwing for 3,487 yards with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while splitting time with former Duke transfer Thomas Sirk. He starting to show glimpses of what he could really do during the final four games of the 2017 season, averaging 372 passing yards per game during that span while throwing 10 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He threw for a whopping 444 yards and four touchdowns while completing nearly 69 percent of his throws in East Carolina's late-season victory over Cincinnati.
After earning his bachelor's degree from ECU, Minshew enrolled as a graduate student at Washington State in 2018. Working under Cougars head coach Mike Leech, Minshew enjoyed a prolific season, throwing for 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He also completed 70.7 percent of his passes while helping lead Washington State to an 11-2 record. Minshew's successful season earned him the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year as well as the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award that's given annually to the nation's top senior or four-year quarterback.
Despite his success, Minshew was still on the board when the Jaguars selected him with the 178th overall pick in this year's draft. His height (he's listed as being 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds), a perceived lack of arm strength, and a poor performance against Washington last fall were some of his perceived negatives heading into the draft. There were also some who thought that Minshew was merely a product of Leech's offensive scheme that allowed him to take advance of one-on-one coverage.
While it was only one game, Minshew answered some of his predraft questions Sunday while having success against Kansas City's defense. He will have to continue to play at a high level if the Jaguars are going to be relevant in the AFC South division race until Foles returns from his injury.
"I'm extremely grateful to be where I'm at," Minshew said of his opportunity. "I'm not happy with the circumstances that it happened. It breaks my heart to see what happened to him because he's one of the best people I've ever played with, had the pleasure to be around. To see him go down like that was awful. But I know he's going to be there with me, and we're gonna have this team where it needs to go."