JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jaguars coach Doug Marrone believes quarterback Nick Foles gives the team "a better chance of winning right now."
Marrone announced Tuesday he will start Foles over rookie sensation Gardner Minshew "going forward." He made the decision during the team’s bye week, saying Foles is ready to return from a broken left collarbone and will start next week at Indianapolis.
"For me, it was looking back at all the work we put in," Marrone said. "I just go back to the experience and what he’s going to be able to do. I think that’s going to give us the ability, a better chance of winning right now."
Marrone told both players before a team meeting. Players were not available to the media afterward. Marrone said Minshew took the news like "a competitor."
"When I say someone’s a competitor and they hear something like that, I think everyone can figure that out," Marrone said.
Foles was injured while throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark on the second series of the team’s season opener. Minshew replaced him and went 4-4 as the starter, throwing for 2,285 yards, with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 235 yards but has lost seven of an NFL-leading 11 fumbles.
"What he’s done, he’s done a great job," Marrone said. "I feel a whole different about him now than I did prior to him playing, in a very positive way. We took some things and had some discussions on things that we’re going to work on going forward, which will give him the ability to be a player in this league for a long time. I really believe that."
Minshew was a sixth-round draft pick from Washington State and became a fan favourite by giving the Jaguars a chance in nearly every game.
His 1970s look — he rocks a groovy headband, an unkempt moustache, jean shorts and throwback T-shirts — is as much a part of his engaging persona as stories that range from pre-game stretching while wearing only a jock strap to trying to break his hand during college in hopes of earning an extra year of eligibility.
But most everyone expected the Jaguars to go back to Foles, a former Super Bowl MVP who signed a four-year, $88 million contract to leave Philadelphia in March.
Minshew looked more like a rookie than a savvy vet in three of Jacksonville’s last four games. He was jittery in the pocket and mostly inept in the red zone.
He led the Jags to a mere field goal in a 26-3 drubbing by Houston in London on Sunday. He threw for 309 yards, most of them in garbage time. The other numbers were more telling: 27 of 47. Two interceptions. Two lost fumbles. A number of off-target throws. Passer rating of 59.6, his second-lowest of the season.
Marrone said he tried to ignore Minshew’s performance across the pond while making his choice.
"I tried to take that out and put it as a body of work, and that’s what I did," Marrone said. "I think that’s important. I think emotions can run sometimes differently, so I looked at the body of work."
Jacksonville waived another former Super Bowl MVP, former Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith, to make room for Foles on the 53-man roster. Foles, who led the Eagles to four playoff victories over the last two seasons, returned to practice two weeks ago and was officially activated from injured reserve Tuesday.
"We’ve progressively brought him back into drills and brought him into some high-speed, close-quarter rushing, where guys were coming at him, blitzes where people were coming free," Marrone said. "We felt like we did the best job to make sure that he was in position to be ready once he was healthy."