INDIANAPOLIS – When looking for a backup/bridge quarterback to pair with the hopeful selection of a franchise changing quarterback, there are some definite desires.
And Gardner Minshew checks several of those for the Colts.
-Playing time in this offense? Yes, Minshew not only has overall experience (24 starts in 4 NFL seasons), but he’s started a pair of games each of the last two seasons, with Shane Steichen calling the plays in those games. So, Minshew has direct experience having Steichen in his hear on game day. The Colts offense on Steichen will be focused around the rookie QB and his strengths, but Minshew is going to have a strong grasp on the core principles.
-Rookie year experience? While Minshew won’t be able to relate to the inevitable fanfare the (likely) quarterback pick will bring to the Colts, he did play a lot in his first NFL season. When Nick Foles got hurt in Week 1 of the 2019 season, the Jaguars had to turn to 6th round pick Gardner Minshew for 12 total starts. This will provide Minshew with some specific situations to the rookie QB in explaining to him what life was like in being thrown into that fire.
-Low maintenance? By all accounts, Minshew is a solid pro and has handled his variety of roles quite well. Certainly, Shane Steichen should know this having worked directly with Minshew the last two years. But as a former Day 3 pick and one that’s been asked to be mainly a backup throughout his career, Minshew should keep a pretty low profile and be very understanding of what the Colts need from him.
Minshew’s first free agency process has brought him to the Colts on a manageable one-year deal.
With the contract including some incentives on playing time, even the Colts are unsure of how much playing time they’ll want from Minshew in 2023.
Back in that 2019 Draft, Minshew actually thought Indianapolis could be a potential destination for him.
“I was fired up to come here and work with Shane,” Minshew says. “This is a place I thought was a possibility I could’ve came in the draft. I had some great meetings with Chris Ballard, and Nick Sirianni was actually here at the time.
“I really like Shane. I love how Chris Ballard builds teams. They always have high character, hardworking teams that play hard and love football, and that shows up on tape. I’ve always had a lot of respect for how they do things here.”
The relationship with Steichen, and for one year with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, is why the Minshew/Colts pairing seemed likely.
In Philly, Steichen praised Minshew for his football intellect and competitive spirit.
And the fondness of the relationship is clearly mutual.
“Fired up to be working with Shane again,” Minshew says. “He’s a guy I have a ton of respect for, not only as a coach but just as a guy. I’m really excited for how he is going to be as a head coach.
“One of the biggest things about Shane is he’s just straight up. He tells it like it is. He’s himself all the time. I think that allows for open and honest communication, especially in the quarterback room and that’s imperative. The connection between the quarterback and the play caller, you really have to understand not only what he’s calling but why he’s calling it. I think that’s huge.”
While both parties of Steichen and Minshew know what they’ll be getting in the other, the unknown in 2023 is the playing time.
But the Colts clearly feel confident Minshew can handle however things end up unfolding.
“I’ve come here to work hard and to help the team in any way I can,” the 26-year-old Minshew says. “So whatever that role is, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
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