JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Minshew Mania is back in Jacksonville.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced Monday that rookie Gardner Minshew would be the team's starting quarterback for the last month of the season, putting supposed franchise quarterback Nick Foles on the bench just 10 quarters after his return from a broken collarbone.
"Obviously it was a tough deal," Marrone said on an afternoon conference call. "Nick coming back from injury and us not being able to do a good enough job around him, really. So we feel with Gardner's mobility and elusiveness, it can give us a better chance of winning with the way we're playing right now because we're all not doing a good enough job."
Minshew replaced Foles to start the second half of Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay. Foles played a terrible first half, turning the ball over on the team's first three drives (an interception and two fumbles) and then leading the offense to three consecutive three-and-outs. Foles completed 7-of-14 passes for 93 yards and the Jaguars failed to score. Marrone said after the game he wanted to give the offense a spark because it was "kind of dead."
Minshew threw for 147 yards and a touchdown in the second half. His lone interception came when his pass bounced off Dede Westbrook's hands in the end zone. He did lose a fumble on a sack in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs were ahead 25-11 at that point.
Marrone said he told the quarterbacks on Monday and that Foles handled the news well.
"It's brutal. It's tough," Marrone said. "He's a competitor. He's worked his ass off to come back and he's a great pro so he's doing to do everything he can to help us win. At the same time he's got to be ready in case there's an injury or whatever it may be. He'll be a pro about this.
"I think the world of him. I think he's a really good quarterback. He obviously can win in this league, but we've got to be able to have some help around him."
Foles has produced 661 yards and 33 points in the three games since his return. Only 10 of those points came in the first half of those games, including zero points and just 105 total yards against the Bucs. That generated a lot of boos, especially as the team headed to the locker room, and Marrone had no choice but the bench the player the Jaguars signed to a four-year, $88 million contract that includes a franchise-record $50.125 million guaranteed.
The Jaguars (4-8) -- who clinched their 11th non-winning season in the past 12 years with Sunday's loss -- play host to the Los Angeles Chargers (4-8), who have lost three consecutive games. They finish out the regular season at Oakland, at Atlanta and home against Indianapolis.
Marrone's decision to go with Minshew creates an interesting quarterback dilemma in 2020. Foles 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.
Foles didn't even make it to halftime of the 2019 season opener before being injured. He suffered a broken collarbone on the Jaguars' 10th 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. Now he's got the job back, but that doesn't mean Foles is solely to blame for the offense's problems.
"I still believe in him as a quarterback," Marrone said. "I just think that a lot of times it's never really just the one position or one person. It's a team game. You need people around him to do a good job and right now we're all not doing a good enough job. So we're just trying to put the best guys out there that give us the best chance to win."