Gardner Minshew is part-Kenny Powers and part-Shane Falco. Josh Dobbs can learn a little something from Gardner Minshew’s journey. Dobbs’ Linsanity-esque run feels like it’s reaching its inevitable denouement, but he still has a long career ahead of him in some shape or form.
Minshew also knows how it feels to be a flavor of the moment. After the hype of Minshew Mania died down, Jacksonville drafted Trevor Lawrence and Minshew has spent the better part of the last few years holding clipboards behind a glass case. Only in case of emergency does he get to throw passes in live action games. Now, he’s pursuing Lawrence and those same Jags in the AFC South race with five contests to go.
When he does drop back, Minshew is hit-or-miss. On a third-and-goal early Sunday afternoon, Minshew overthrew a wide open Alec Pierce in the back of the endzone. He also fumbled in the pocket and had a pass on a two-point conversion batted into the air by Zach Moss and returned the other way by safety Amani Hooker for a Titans score. Earlier in the half, Minshew missed on a deep ball to Pierce that would have resulted in a touchdown. Instead, the Colts settled for three.
The fact that Indianapolis has a backup who can ride a high is already a win after the quarterback debacles they’ve endured since Andrew Luck’s retirement. The New York Jets or Cleveland Browns would do anything for a daredevil backup starter who could animate their passing attacks and take the occasional lows that come with it. Instead, they’re both offensive zombies buoyed by suffocating defenses. While the owner acts a fool and Jonathan Taylor dips in and out of the lineup, Minshew has been the constant holding these fragile Colts together. While the New York Jets trotted out Tim Boyles, the Steelers turned to Mitch Trubisky, and the Cleveland Browns were forced to turn to 38-year-old Joe Flacco, Indianapolis’ investment in Minshew is paying off.
On Sunday afternoon, Minshew punctured the Tennessee Titans defense through the air to the tune of 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a win that boosted the Colts playoff aspirations. In overtime, Minshew delivered a pinpoint deep ball into Alec Pierce’s breadbasket midway through overtime that set Indianapolis up inside the 5-yard-line. Two plays later, Minshew connected with Michael Pittman for the game-winning touchdown. Ultimately, Minshew got the job done when it mattered most. Don’t look now, but Indianapolis is clutching one of the AFC’s final playoff spots.
Minshew was supposed to spend the season like he has the last couple ones backing up young sensation, Anthony Richardson, after following Shane Steichen to Indianapolis. A slew of injuries including a season-ending shoulder injury scuttled those plans. After falling off in the middle of the season, Minshew is peaking at the right time.
Minshew is a walking football miracle. Through two recruitments that fell through due to unforeseen circumstances, a journey through JUCO, then Troy, then Washington State and parlayed a breakthrough single season into a longshot career as a sixth round pick. Minshew should have transitioned into his football afterlife long ago just as Indianapolis’ season was expected to be DOA following Richardson’s injury. He’s brought some of that miracle football to Indy. Now it’s about seeing how far he can carry them.
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