Gardner Minshew was not exactly a name on the tip of every football fan’s tongue when he entered last Sunday’s Jags-Chiefs game in place of the injured Nick Foles.
He’ll now start on Sunday in Houston as the Texans (and Jaguars) look to bounce back from a Week 1 loss.
Before you think that a backup quarterback, a rookie, has no shot to be effective against your team, allow me to be the one to set this straight.
In fact, I’m waiting for Bill O’Brien to call me into the squad meeting so I can tell the team about all the times the Texans have faced big challenges from backup and/or rookie QBs (I’ll likely wait a long time).
We need not leave the division for the first examples. When coaches talk about divisional games being difficult no matter the records or circumstances, believe them!
This is not Lou Holtzian coach-speak. Division teams know your club better than anyone. That’s why you often see teams sign players who were with divisional opponents, they’ve seen a ton of film on them.
Let’s begin with the Jags in 2012. Chad Henne comes of the bench in place of Blaine Gabbert (we’ll get to him in a moment) and throws for 354 yards and four touchdowns against probably the best Texans team ever. Houston was down two TDs in the fourth but pulled it out in overtime.
Gabbert had some rough days against Houston, including getting sacked seven times in a game in 2011. But as a backup in Tennessee, he engineered a Week 2 win over the Texans last season. It was nothing fancy, but he didn’t turn it over and threw a TD pass in a close game.
Don’t get me started on the Colts.
Ok, I’ll get started.
The biggest memory is when former Texan Dan Orlovsky rallied Indy to beat Houston in Week 16. Had the Texans won, they had bye week possibilities. How about backup nemesis (if there is such a thing) Jacoby Brissett? As a third-stringer Patriot, he got a win over the Texans in 2016. As a Colt, he helmed two victories in the injury-plagued campaign of 2017.
You can bet O’Brien and the coaches are preaching the message to the players that the Jaguars are a very dangerous team. Many of the same players are still there who beat New England last season, and humbled the Colts 6-0. And Minshew has already proven that he can be accurate and get the ball into the end zone.
I just felt it was important that you knew, too. This is a crucial AFC South showdown and an opportunity to get a much-needed divisional win at home.