Jordan Miller has the Falcons’ scouting report on ‘Minshew Mania’

Before Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew splashed onto the NFL scene as a mustache-wearing cult figure, he had to deal with Falcons cornerback Jordan Miller.

Last season, Washington State, with Minshew at the controls, played Washington, with Miller at cornerback and were defeated 28-15 in Pullman, Wash.

“We thought he was a good player last year,” said Miller, who had three tackles in the game and would be drafted by the Falcons in the fifth round. “At Wazzu, he came into the program for one year and did some great things for them.”

Minshew, who will start when the Jaguars (5-9) face the Falcons (5-9) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes Benz Stadium, was drafted in the sixth round.

“He’s doing well in Jacksonville,” Miller said. “He’s a rookie. We are coming in with a good mentality to play against him.”

Minshew, who is listed at 6-feet-1 and 225 pounds, was pressed into service in his first NFL game after starter Nick Foles suffered a broken clavicle on the 11th play of the season opener. He started the next eight games and went 4-4. Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million deal in free agency, started the next three games before he was benched and Jaguars turned back to Minshew.

With Minshew starting, the Jaguars lost to the Chargers 45-10 before pulling out a 20-16 victory over Oakland on Sunday.

“He’s a pretty good scrambler,” Miller said. “He scrambles to throw sometimes. He can get out of the pocket and make guys miss, more than you’d expect. Then he’s not afraid to throw it down the field.”

Minshew, of Brandon, Miss., energized the Jaguars early in the season and “Minshew Mania” swept across Duval County, Fla. Minshew, a colorful dresser is looking to cash in on his fame, has filed trademark applications for “Minshew Mania,” “Minshew Magic” and “Mississippi Moustache.”

He started his career at Northwest Mississippi Community College before playing at East Carolina. He played one season at Washington State.

“He bounced around a little bit in college,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “He really had a heck of a year at Washington State. We kind of did our homework. Brought him in and interviewed him. He had great energy.”

He started the final exhibition game against the Falcons, who had Danny Etling at QB. Minshew completed 11 of 26 passes for 79 yards before leaving the game for Alex McGough.

“He did a nice job and got a bunch of reps in the (exhibition) season,” Marrone said. “We really didn’t know what we had. Then when Nick got injured in the first game of the year, we threw him in there.”

Minshew turned some heads when he completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the 40-26 loss to the Chiefs.

“He did a heck of a job,” Marrone said. “He took advantage of his opportunity. He’s an incredibly bright young man. ... He can take it from the classroom on to the field. He’s proved that he deserves to be in this league. He’s done a great job for us.”

Minshew is 5-5 as a starter and has completed 245 of 400 passes for 2,795 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a passer rating of 91.2.

“He’s played a lot,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “This is a very good competitor. You see that boldness in his play. He can break out of the pocket and extend plays with his feet. Can rip a ball down the field.”

The Falcons were impressed with the rally Minshew led last week against the Raiders. He stood in the pocket to take on the blitz, while waiting for wide receiver Chris Conley to make his cut.

“Staring in the face of the blitz at the end of the game to throw a ball in for a touchdown on back-to-back plays,” Quinn said. “One got broken up and another blitz came right to him.”

The touchdown gave the Jaguars a lead after they had trailed 16-3 at halftime.

“They made a really good play on it,” Quinn said. “What he’s showing is that he’s a real competitor. His boldness to play jumps out to me.”

Falcons passing-game coordinator Jerome Henderson is helping to get Miller and the rest of the defensive backs ready for Minshew’s style of play.

“He’s one of those players that you can tell the guys rally around him,” Henderson said. “When he’s in the game, I think they believe in him. He’s really good at buying time in the pocket.”


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