Gardner Minshew hasn’t had the best summer when it comes to the practice field.
Any doubts surrounding Jalen Hurts’ backup diminished greatly on Sunday in Cleveland, however, when Minshew was superlative in one half of work during the Eagles’ 21-20 preseason win over the Browns.
With Hurts and the majority of the starters getting their work in earlier in the week during joint practices, Minshew was tasked with starting the game and playing the first half.
The former Jacksonville starter was extremely effective at the controls for three drives that all went over 10 plays.
The first two went for scores, short touchdown runs by Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell, and the last was halted at the Cleveland 4-yard line on a failed fourth-down conversion when Minshew got fooled by a zone look when he thought slot receiver Britain Covey was getting man-to-man coverage.
It was a run-pass option mindset that Minshew handled deftly rising a workhouse effort by Scott on the initial 14-play, 76-yard drive, and then a more explosive Gainwell performance on an even more meticulous 17-play, 75-yard march.
“Tough,” Minshew said of the performances by his backs. “They were in there for so many plays. Running them over and over. It was good to see that toughness get rewarded, and for them to stick it out and get in there (the end zone).”
Minshew, though, was able to convert third downs when needed and took what the Browns defense was giving him in the passing game during what was a 14-of-17 effort for 142 yards and a 101.5 passer rating.
The lone hiccup, a near pick six, in the misfire to Covey wouldn’t have even come into play in a regular-season environment in which Nick Sirianni would have settled for a Jake Elliott chip shot.
Nonetheless, Minshew wasn’t making excuses.
“That was a look they actually gave us in practice a couple of days ago. The corner went out, and this time they adjusted,” the QB said. “That was a really good call by them. That’s a mistake I don’t plan on making twice. Great opportunity to get better and learn from.”
The good far outweighed the bad, however, with Minshew uncorking a pair of great throws to Deon Cain, including a brilliant back-shoulder fade that was on the money.
“It’s awesome. Me and Deon, we had a lot of experience on the scout team last year,” said Minshew. “I have a ton of confidence in him. So just being able to do that in a game situation, is just so much fun.
“He just plays the ball really well in the air. If you put it in the right spot, you can trust him to hold the guy off and make the play. Always looking for him when he’s out there.
The ultimate competitor Minshew sauntered into Sirianni’s last season after an impressive performance against the New York Jets when Hurts was injured, asking the coach what he needed to do to earn the permanent starting job.
The answer was essentially ‘nothing, Jalen is our guy,’ but that isn’t going to stop Minshew from pushing entering a contract year.
“All I want to do is get better, man,” the easygoing Minshew said. “In my mind, I’ve proved to myself that I can play in this league. That’s all that matters.
“I know that if I continue to get better, then I have a chance to have a really good career in this league. So just continue to get better and learn from the opportunities like we had today, learn from the guys around me.”