Philadelphia Eagles

What can the Eagles expect from Gardner Minshew in his first start?

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The Eagles traded Joe Flacco to the Jets after No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson was injured. This paved the way for former Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew to be the backup to Jalen Hurts. There has been a lot of speculation this week that Hurts could miss time with an ankle injury, so yet again the Eagles could see some craziness with a backup QB. 

This drove me down a rabbit hole to review Gardner’s tape and see if Minshew mania was a fluke or if he is a genuinely talented player. 

Skillset

I went into this film review knowing very little about Minshew and his on-field ability, but I was honestly quite impressed with what I saw on tape. 

Minshew throws with excellent anticipation. In the clip below, Minshew has the ball out of his hands before the wideout turns upfield. He throws a beautiful strike right on target with a defender in his lap. This is an elite throw.

Another thing that quickly stood out was his ability to process his reads and accurately assess defenses. Minshew has an excellent understanding of the game and it translates on the field. He does not force throws into bad coverages but stands in the pocket to find the open man. In this clip, watch Gardner’s head as he goes through his progressions and delivers a good ball to 3rd option on the play.

For the most part, Minshew moves really well in the pocket. He makes a lot of subtle adjustments and slides into throwing lanes while maintaining his footwork and balance. For a young QB he displays elite footwork at times, he still needs to improve his consistency but overall it’s good. This clip really identifies his ability to do this and throw a dime in the middle of the field.

This isn’t a sexy play but it’s an example of just reading the defense and making a high-quality NFL throw. A lot of inexperienced QB’s would force this ball to his first read at the bottom of the screen. He recognizes the safety help over the top and throws a dart to the other side of the field.

Here I’ve identified two clips where he shows off excellent ball placement and accuracy. First of all, in the clip against the chiefs, he immediately recognizes the 1 on 1 opportunity at the top of the screen, correctly identifies that the defender is in stack coverage which means he needs to throw back shoulder. Best of all, the ball is out of his hands before the receiver has even gone 5 yards. Beautiful anticipation and accuracy. That is a really high-level play.

The next clip is more of the same but he recognizes he needs to hold the safety in the middle of the field which he does to perfection. Again realizes how the corner is playing stack leverage and throws to the back shoulder. You really can’t ask for any better on this play.

Creative playmaker and shifty. He makes the most of broken plays and has great improvisational skill to create something out of nothing. Gardner has a natural feel for the game of football. He can make throws in a variety of ways with good accuracy, definitely not at the Mahomes level but it’s a good part of his game.

Against the falcons, we see one of Minshew’s biggest problems, arm strength. This is a pretty routine throw but because he isn’t properly set the ball doesn’t get there with enough power on it. Minshew has adequate arm strength but really needs perfect footwork to make tight-window throws and deep shots down the field.

Against the chargers, he just doesn’t get his footwork correct and totally misses the throw. Generally, Gardner has good footwork but he does get out of sync at times.

This by far is Minshew’s biggest flaw and we know all about it in Philadelphia. The former Jacksonville jaguar will hold on to the ball for a bit too long and it’s reminiscent of the “hero ball” style of play we saw from Carson Wentz. While this occasionally happens, Minshew does a good job of taking what the defense gives him but he does need to limit these kinds of mistakes.

Overall, I loved what I saw from Minshew. I think Derek Carr is a really great comparison for what Minshew can be in the NFL. He is accurate and distributes the ball well but occasionally makes mistakes that can really hurt. Gardner is a better passer than Hurts by a significant margin which is why they are considering playing Minshew this week against the Jets. If Jalen cannot run effectively this offense will be a disaster. I think Minshew deserves a chance to start again in this league because he is too talented to ride the bench for the rest of his career. If Minshew plays I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagle’s offense dominate the jets.

Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

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