The Underrated Quarterback No One Talks About
It’s time Gardner Minshew gets some respect
Since entering the NFL, Gardner Minshew has been overlooked. A sixth-round pick out of Washington State in 2019, Minshew found himself heading to Jacksonville. The Jaguars, however, likely never viewed Minshew as their long-term answer at QB. I mean, after all, he did slide all the way to the 178th pick.
Well, Jacksonville finally confirmed their lack of optimism surrounding Minshew, by trading him to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick (could upgrade to a fifth-round selection if Minshew plays 50% of the snaps). Now it’s fine that Jacksonville decided to move on from Minshew. They drafted Trevor Lawrence first overall, and most would agree Lawrence’s upside is far greater than Minshew’s. The issue is with the compensation Jacksonville got in return.
Let’s just do a blind comparison for fun. Quarterback A had 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in 16 games. Quarterback B on the other hand, had 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six interceptions in 14 games. Most would agree these numbers are very similar. However, there’s no way quarterback A would be dealt for a sixth-round selection. That’s because quarterback A is former number one pick Baker Mayfield’s stats from last season. Meanwhile, quarterback B is Minshew’s stats from his rookie season.
The numbers start to look even more impressive in Minshew’s favor when you look at the team surrounding each QB. Mayfield had two great running backs (Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt), two above-average receivers (Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry), and the best offensive line according to Pro Football Focus last year when he put up those stats. Minshew on the other hand had a good running back (Leonard Fournette), average to below-average receivers (DJ Chark, Chris Conley), and the 26th ranked offensive line. All while it was his first year in the NFL.
Now I’m not necessarily saying Minshew is a better quarterback than Baker Mayfield. I’m simply showing an example of how Minshew is often overlooked and undervalued. Mayfield was talking contract extensions with Cleveland this offseason, while Minshew was getting shipped out of town despite similar statistics.
But that’s not the only comparison that shows Minshew is underrated. As a matter of fact, there’s plenty to still discuss. In his rookie season, Minshew had more touchdown passes in fewer games than players like Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. He averaged more yards per game than Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Jones, and Sam Darnold.
This isn’t a one-year thing either where Minshew fell off in his second season. In 2020, Minshew still had more yards per game than Kyler Murray, Ryan Tannehill, and Baker Mayfield. He once again also had more passing touchdowns in fewer games than guys like Joe Burrow, Teddy Bridgewater, and Tua Tagovailoa.
The one constant with the previous quarterbacks mentioned: they’re all starters. Minshew on the other hand is left competing for backup jobs. The real question is why?
In 23 career games, Minshew has completed 62.9% of his passes, for 5,530 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He has also racked up 497 rushing yards over that span. All this while constantly having a below-average coach, a below-average offensive line, and average at best weapons.
Now I’m not saying Minshew can be a top-five quarterback or anything crazy like that. But in the right situation, I have no doubt that Minshew could be an above-average option with the capabilities of leading a team to the postseason. Meanwhile, Philadelphia just got him for a sixth-rounder.
That value is crazy. Just compare the Minshew deal to another trade for a young QB this offseason. The Jets sent Sam Darnold to Carolina in exchange for a second, fourth, and sixth-round pick. Now, where’s the difference in value coming from?
It must solely be based on draft position since Darnold was the third overall pick. I mean it can’t be based on on-field performance thus far because Minshew has been better. Don’t believe me? In very similar situations, Minshew has averaged more yards per game (240 compared to 213), more passing touchdowns per game (1.6 to 1.2), and fewer interceptions per game (0.47 to 1.02) than Darnold, while also having a higher career completion percentage (62.9 compared to 59.8). Now which one of these quarterbacks do you think should have garnered multiple draft picks in a trade?
It’s time people stop underrating Gardner Minshew. Is he the best QB in the league? No. Should he be a starter someone? Absolutely. But for now, I guess we just have to wait until Minshew Mania gets another shot.