After losing newly signed franchise quarterback Nick Foles to injury just 11 snaps into the 2019 NFL season, Jacksonville Jaguars fans would have been well within their rights to lose all hope about the team’s offense … again.
After all, the incoming replacement, sixth-round Washington State product Gardner Minshew, wasn’t particularly the talk of the town heading into the draft; nor was he the talk of the town after a preseason performance which earned an overall grade of 61.5, 45th among 79 qualifying players at the position. Making the situation a bit bleaker, their rookie signal-caller was to be coupled with a starting receiving corps that had just one single-season overall grade above 70.0 between them, with a total of 10 sub-65.0 grades to their credit across a combined 2,898 receiving snaps.
Entering the season, the Jags' starting combo of Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, D.J. Chark Jr. and James O’Shaughnessy had collectively caught only 64.1% of their career targets at an average of 11.3 yards per reception, generating a passer rating of just 85.2. To put those numbers into context, they would rank 25th, 24th and 26th, respectively, among this season's receiving corps.
Things looked in bad shape. Things looked in really bad shape.
But now, five full weeks into the NFL season, the Jaguars boast the league’s ninth-best team passing grade, and they rank 16th among teams in team receiving grade. Their wide receivers and tight ends have put up a league-ninth-best 1,197 receiving yards and generated a league-fourth-best 123.1 passer rating; the mustache-boasting, jock strap-parading Minshew is currently the 11th highest-graded quarterback in the entire league, and he ranks in the top-10 among signal-callers in passer rating on deep throws (119.4, 6th), passer rating under pressure (84.8, 10th) and passer rating from a clean pocket (116.3, 7th).
Minshew Mania has indeed gripped the nation, but somewhat lost in his majesty has been the play of sophomore wideout D.J. Chark Jr., who has put up historically good numbers for a second-year wideout through five weeks of the 2019 NFL season.