Jaguars bench QB Nick Foles, go back to Gardner Minshew

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars benched Super Bowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles after a terrible first half against Tampa Bay in a 28-11 loss on Sunday.

Gardner Minshew, the team’s sixth-round draft pick who subbed for an injured Foles earlier in the season, took over to start the second half, and though he performed slightly better, could not rally the Jaguars out of a 25-point hole.

Foles turned the ball over on the Jaguars’ first three possessions — the first quarterback to do that since Chicago’s Mike Glennon in 2017 — and then registered three consecutive three-and-outs. The Jaguars had just 105 yards of offense and five first downs before the half.

Minshew finished with 147 yards on 16-of-27 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception in the second half.

Coach Doug Marrone’s decision to go with Minshew may be for this week only as a way to spark a stagnant offense. If it’s for the rest of the season, however, it creates an interesting dilemma in 2020. If the Jaguars have an open QB competition and Minshew wins the starting job, what do they do with Foles?

He has a dead cap hit of $33.875 million if released before June 1, but that number drops to $21.375 million if he’s released after June 1. A post-June 1 trade would save the Jaguars $15.875 million and include a dead cap hit of $6.25 million.

The Jaguars signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract with a franchise-record $50.125 million guaranteed in March, and owner Shad Khan said it was his dream to land the player who led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl LII victory over New England. Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass to earn MVP honors.

Foles didn’t even make it to halftime of the 2019 season opener before being injured. He suffered a broken collarbone on the Jaguars’ 11th snap when Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones landed on him after Foles let the ball go on what would be a 35-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark.

Minshew stepped in for Foles and had an impressive debut: 22-of-25 for 275 yards and two TDs with one interception. Minshew started the next eight games and led the Jaguars to a 4-4 record, throwing for 2,285 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions.

His attitude, attire (jorts, headband, aviators) and mustache — coupled with his freewheeling style of play — led to Minshew Mania erupting across the country. That came to a crashing halt against Houston in Week 9, however, when Minshew turned the ball over four times (two interceptions, two fumbles) and led the Jaguars to just one field goal in a 26-3 loss at Wembley Stadium in London.

Minshew had his problems holding on to the ball, too. At one point he led the NFL with seven lost fumbles but is second now behind the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones (10). He fumbled once on Sunday but the Jaguars were able to recover the ball.

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