NFL teams often include a few surprises within their first unofficial depth charts of the preseason. The 2021 Jaguars are no exception: their first preseason depth chart contains a rather big surprise at quarterback.
Jacksonville apparently hasn’t settled on a starter. While many assumed that Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, would be it, the initial depth chart lists Gardner Minshew “or” Lawrence as the No. 1 quarterback.
Does this mean there’s still a chance Minshew could begin the season as Jacksonville’s starter? Yes, says coach Urban Meyer.
Meyer said (via ESPN’s Michael DiRocco) that he didn’t know Minshew before accepting the Jaguars coaching job, but he has been impressed with the third-year player’s performance during training camp.
“I didn’t know Minshew. I knew his coach [at Washington State] very well, Mike Leach,” Meyer said. “I don’t say we got off to a bad start, but I just didn’t see very much of him — but he’s earned my respect. I love that guy. He’s a warrior-competitor. He’s a fighter. I told him that. I’ve just got great respect for Minshew. He brings it every day. Every day.”
In 2020, Minshew completed 66.1 percent of his passes in nine games (eight starts) for 2,259 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions while battling a thumb injury, but the Jaguars were 1-7 record in his starts. The record is part of the reason they were in position to draft Lawrence — a national title winner at Clemson who completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 3,153 yards, 24 TDs and five interceptions in his final collegiate season.
Lawrence has also impressed during camp and Meyer said he is “doing really well.” The rookie and Minshew have alternated reps with the first and second team, and both have posted strong numbers in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 passing drills, per DiRocco. Lawrence has an edge in TDs thrown while Minshew has done a better job of limiting turnovers.
Lawrence will most likely start sooner than later despite his current standing. Since 2010, nine quarterbacks, including Lawrence, have been drafted No. 1 overall. Of the first eight, only two have failed to win the starting job in Week 1: Baker Mayfield took over as the Browns’ starter in Week 4 of his rookie season and Jared Goff didn’t start for the Rams until Week 11 in 2016.
Lawrence is focused on putting his best foot forward and earning the job. He trusts the coaching staff to make the right decision when choosing a starter.
“Yeah, it’s competing, but also, at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team,” Lawrence said of his battle with Minshew. “So I’m going to do everything I can to be the best guy for the job and to win games. But at the end of the day, that’s not in my hands, the decisions. I trust the coaches; we’re all on the same team and we’re just trying to win. So my mindset is just to win games, to be the best prepared as I can be.”
Lawrence will have a chance to show off his preparation Saturday when the Jaguars open their preseason with a game against the Browns.