What We Learned: 2021 Preseason
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
With the Jags win on Thursday, Gardner Minshew became the first rookie QB in NFL history to average a completion percentage of 73.9 and a passer rating of 110.6 passer rating through the first three game of his career.
From a fantasy perspective, he’s now thrown for at least 200 yards and a TD in every game he’s appeared in, and he's only turned the ball over once. Not only is he playing well beyond his years, he's acting like it too. After the game he spoke with the NFL crew, answering every question with a franchise-QB demeanor. You wouldn't expect someone who looks like the love child of Uncle Rico and White Goodman to act so polished and mature, but you've got to give him credit. He even got grief for saying the Jags are taking it one week at a time, that he just wanted to focus on the Broncos this week, like a veteran.
Minshew-mania is sweeping the nation, causing fans, coaches, and NFL analysts alike to sport the iconic fake mustache in celebration of this surprisingly capable rookie.
With Daniel Jones, Luke Falk, Mason Rudolph, and Josh Rosen all making their first start in week three, things are starting to get ugly around this league. It’s no wonder Minshew feels like a breath of fresh air.
He finished 20-30 for 204 yards and two TD's. He should have had at least 40 more yards and one more touchdown. Minshew delivered several well-placed balls that his receivers failed to make a play on, including a brutal drop by Dede Westbrook in the end-zone.
Minshew currently is 5-6 and has a perfect passer rating (158.3) on passes that travel more than 40 yards in the air this season. Second year receiver DJ Chark is enjoying the benefits. Chark now has a receiving TD and at least 17 PPR points in all three games so far this season.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Jags offense on Thursday. Leonard Fournette looked BAD. At one point in the fourth quarter, he had 11 carries for -8 yards. He FINALLY broke free for a 69-yard run late in the fourth quarter to salvage his fantasy day, but that was pretty close to being disastrous...
If you take away that long run, Fournette averages just 2.6 yards per carry this season. From an efficiency standpoint, he should be carefully monitored going forward, but the most encouraging thing I saw from him was his involvement in the passing game. Fournette had six receptions in this game, a career-high for him. He displayed good hands on Thursday and theres no reason to think he won't carve out a larger role for himself in the passing game. He now has at least 4 receptions in every game so far this season, which certainly provides him with a higher fantasy floor than he normally would have, especially in PPR.
The other RB1 in this game, Derrick Henry, didn't have it any easier. Henry took his 17 carries for 44 yards (2.6 YPC) and caught one pass for two yards. Luckily for fantasy owners, he scored the Titans only touchdown of the game.
If Mariota hadn't played so bad, they might have found themselves in more scoring situations. I know they played "Sacksonville" but the man took nine sacks... NINE! What I find hilarious is that’s not even the most times he’s been sacked in a single game.
Mariota has now been sacked 17 times in three games, the most for a QB since 2002. Some of them were thanks to excellent play by Jacksonville, some of them were thanks to the poor play of the Mariota's O-line which is obviously missing the suspended Taylor Lewan, and some of them were just his own fault. He looked awfully non-chalant in the pocket for a guy who was literally being sacked left and right. Mariota had me questioning wether or not he has adequate pocket-awareness last night... It's his fifth year in the league.
Somehow, he finished with 300+ passing yards but don’t be fooled, he didn’t play very well. He missed several throws he should have made, and took a couple of extra sacks that could have been avoided.
It’s entirely possible we've already seen Mariota reach his peak.
After a promising sophomore season in 2016 where he threw for a career-high 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns, he’s been on the decline. Each year he has seen his yardage and touchdown totals decrease. On the bright side, he had a career-high in rush yards last season (357). Unfortunately, he had a career-low in pass yards (2,528) and touchdowns (11). You read that right, in 14 games last year, Mariota only threw 11 touchdowns. In those 14 games, he had has less than 200 yards passing in eight of them, and less than 130 in seven of them! Those numbers are so gross, I might actually throw up if I have to read them again.
After being selected number two overall in the 2015 NFL draft, he's just 29-31 as a starter. The only player selected above him, Jameis Winston, has been even worse! (22-34)... I think it’s been enough time for us to confidently say: these guys are busts.
Maybe they should take the Jags/Pats lead and go for their QBs in the sixth round from now on.
Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew poses for selfie with former All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas after the game Thurday, Sept. 16. - photo courtesy of 1010xl.com
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for fantasy football and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.