BEHOLD rookie sensation and star of the forthcoming Paul Thomas Anderson movie Garnder Minshew:
As we discussed on the podcast, the biggest surprise of Week 1 was 6th round rookie Gardner Minshew, who stepped into a less-than-stacked Jags offense (albeit against a very leaky Chiefs pass defense) and went 22-for-25 despite 3 drops and a reasonably high yards-per-attempt rate. Obviously, he’s not that good, but he’s kind of an intriguing story. The same height as Baker Mayfield, he struggled to find a job before he turned down an offer from Nick Saban to be a backup/coach in training to have an fine senior year for Mike Leach (70.7 COMP%, 38/9 TD/INT, although the 7.2 Y/A isn’t great) at Wazzu, and got some positive attention at the combine. My point here is not that he should have been a much higher draft pick or something; having only one year of major conference experience and playing in an Air Raid system are real red flags (although the success of Mahomes should temper the latter; while some Air Raid prospects may have failed because their stats were an illusion, we should also consider the possibility that some failed because NFL coaches were unwilling to adjust their schemes and concepts to their abilities, and they may have a better track record going forward.) But I was wrong to quickly dismiss him in the preview. In retrospect, I like what Jacksonville did here. Maybe his debut will look like a complete fluke by Week 4; the track record of 6th picks despite the one really major one is very poor. But better to play a interesting prospect who might be good and has some real plusses in his track record than haul in a Chad Henne or Brandon Weeden or Generic Failed Prospect Who Got Drafted in the 1st Round Because He Played For Notre Dame who you know isn’t any good. At worst, it figures to be less painful that watching Blake Bortles, and the Jags didn’t invest a top 3 pick on this prospect.
Speaking of which, the Trevor Siemian comment in the FO Almanac this year had a amusing bit about how if you want the most desirable job in the NFL — i.e. tall white guy holding a clipboard for a seven-figure annual salary — the best outcome is not to play at all, because for some reason zero-attempt seasons make general managers perceive you as having permanent intangible value, like a carefully preserved vintage comic. Actually playing reminds shatters the illusion. So Siemian is the big loser of Week 2. On the other hand, since Adam Gase’s specialty is turning QBs into failed completion checkdown artists, and was well on his way to working his magic on Darnold — whose average completed pass in Week 1traveled 2.54 yards! — if Darnold misses the season and the Jets are bad enough to get Gase fired, this may be a rare case of heightening-the-contradictions working out.
Oh, and finally, congratulations to John Elway for taking his elite defense and losing to Jon Gruden and the Antonio Brown-free Oakland Raiders! In fairness, there was no evidence that Joe Flacco had turned into a replacement-level mannequin except for his past four years of play passim.