One of the most memorable supporting characters in early 2000s cinema is the uncle Rico of Napoleon Dynamite, the former high school football defender who feels glory was unfairly wrung from himdespite its ability to throw a pigskin a quarter of a mile. When Jacksonville rookie quarterback Jaguars Gardner Minshew II – and his decidedly retro facial hair – were unexpectedly pressured into service in the first game of the season, there were many who instantly associated he with Rico. If fans were initially cautious about taking Minshew seriously, he laughed for the last time: In the first four games of his career, he looks like a legitimate NFL rookie.
Going to this year's draft, most evaluators considered the Washington State product can end up as the third string quarterback of a team – if he was lucky. The Jaguars ended up choosing him in round six (we are legally required to note here that it is the same round as Tom Brady). A lucrative career warming up the bank seemed to beckon Minshew, but starter Nick Bellow broke his collarbone in the first game of the season. That should have been a season-end for the Jags, who signed a four-year, $ 88 million deal with Bellows during the off-season, hoping the Super Bowl LII hero would help them return to the playoffs after a miserable 2018.
Except, here's the point: Minshew wasn't just a proper replacement, he was really great. Like "as good as we saw from a Jacksonville quarterback" great. By filling Bellows in week 1, he achieved 88% pass approval, the best pass performance in a single game. in franchise history. The Jaguars lost 40-26 to Kansas City Chiefs, but Minshew impressed enough that the Jaguars were comfortable naming him as a starter after Bellows was placed in the Wounded Reserve, ensuring he will be out until at least Week. 11. Minshew was not impressed with the opportunity. He went on to play 213 yards in a one-point loss to the Houston Texans in week 2 and then 204 yards in his first professional win, 20-7 win over the Tennessee Titans.
GARDNER MINSHEW GAME 😤 pic.twitter.com/EmWMo5qcVI
On Sunday, against the Denver Broncos, he had the defining moment of his young career when he played the first touchdown of the game while escaping several defenders. He then mounted a campaign to set Josh Lambo's goal on the field. He now has seven touchdowns and just one intercept this season, and its 106.9 quarterback rating is the sixth best in the league among regular beginners and better than Brady, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers. On their own merits, these were the first four impressive games, but they probably look even better for a fanbase that was burned by artists like Blaine Gabbert and Good Place perpetual punchline Blake Bortles as a full-back defender.
In other words, Uncle Rico's comparison isn't fair to Minshew, because the whole joke about the character was that his illusory self-confidence outweighed his talent. While they may meet somewhat similar visuals and share the same confidence in their abilities, there is no doubt that Minshew is proving to be just the opposite as a player.
Minshew, to his credit, adopted the nickname with good grace. At ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, before securing his second straight win as a starter, he appeared in a skit alongside Jon Gries, the actor who played Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite. Although he probably can't get rid of Uncle Rico, Minshew has an even stranger nickname among his teammates. Turns out he's also known as the Jock Strap King due to his propensity to stretch out on his jockstrap (and sometimes not even that) in the locker room as part of a game day ritual.
At this point, the Jaguars will let Minshew do whatever he wants. With Sunday's victory, the Jaguars drew 2-2, good enough to a part of first place at AFC South (Since all teams in the division have the same record, that means they also have a part of last place, but we won't discuss it here.) With your elite defense, Jacksonville would always have a chance to compete this season, but the crime was a question mark. If Minshew can continue to do what he is doing, and delaying Leonard Fournette's 225-yard performance on Sunday turns out to be a sign of things to come, the Jaguars could set themselves up as division favorites.
It's hard to judge exactly what Minshew will give them in the future. Three matches are a small sample size to draw firm conclusions, and the NFL is full of quarterbacks that looked like Pro Bowlers until opposing defenses figured out how to counteract them. The appeal of Minshew's story is obvious. When a smaller size underdog succeeds, it gives us all – until uncle Rico I hope, if we ignore the fact that Minshew needed to be an extremely talented athlete to get close to the NFL in the first place.
Still, it's impressive whenever a novice quarterback, thrown into a position he should never be, succeeds instantly. At the moment, let's not speculate about Minshew being the Jaguars quarterback in the future. It is noteworthy that he is the quarterback now.
. (tagsToTranslate) Jacksonville Jaguars (t) Sport (t) NFL (t) US Sports