HELMETS OFF

Opinion: Don’t Bench Super Bowl Winner For Flashy New Guy

Dec 3, 2019, 1:14 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2020, 12:08 pm
Gardner Minshew #15 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs off the field after a turn over on downs durin...
Gardner Minshew #15 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs off the field after a turn over on downs during the fourth quarter of a football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at TIAA Bank Field on December 01, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – You don’t bench a Super Bowl-winning quarterback – or do you?  Nike Foles, who is a legend in Philadelphia after leading the Eagles to their first Super Bowl was benched for the remainder of the 2019 NFL season by the Jacksonville Jaguars and replaced by Gardner Minshew.

Are you kidding me?

I like Minshew. I watched him play at Washington State. He turned a lot of heads with his consistent and prolific performance. In his limited time as the starter for the Jaguars this season he has shown promise but certainly not enough to be anointed a king.

I’ve always been perplexed about why NFL coaches make these decisions. The 1999 Baltimore Ravens team comes to mind.

Trent Dilfer replaced Tony Banks mid-season and led the offense to a Super Bowl win against the New York Giants. I understand Dilfer wasn’t impressive, average at best, but he did make plays to win the game. He made throws at the right time in the regular season and in the playoffs that contributed to the team winning a championship.

The Ravens defense was the star of that team, arguably the best ever in the NFL and certainly the main reason why they won the Super Bowl, but Dilfer still had to make plays.

The following year guess who was not in Baltimore?

Dilfer, he was replaced by Elvis Grabac.

I didn’t understand. Dilfer, as limited as he was, was removed before the beginning of the next season. That shows no respect from the Ravens. At least give the guy another year to prove if he was a fluke or a real player.

He earned that by winning a Super Bowl. The Ravens saw it differently than me.

I was so upset by this I called Ravens wideout Qadry Ismail to get the scoop.

“Dilfer couldn’t even complete a pass in practice, he was that unimpressive,” Ismail told me.

The team felt that Grabac was a massive upgrade and the team won in spite of Dilfer.

The Jaguars move to bench Foles makes no sense to me because Minshew has a limited skill set. By that I mean, he isn’t an elite runner, and he doesn’t have a big-time arm. NFL defensive coaches will eventually find out your weakness and make you prove that you can make all of the throws to consistently win in the NFL.

Let me give you a case in point, well several.

Colin Kaepernick led his team to a Super Bowl with limited experience, and for a good chunk of that season Alex Smith was the starter. Teams were not ready to handle Kaepernick and his running ability because of that he fooled teams for a period of time. That is what got him to the Super Bowl.

Over time NFL defenses forced Kaepernick to stay in the pocket and throw the ball. Well, he couldn’t consistently do that and he was a flash in the pan.

Kordell Stewart is another example. Run – run he could do, but make the throw in the pocket against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game with the game on the line he could not do.

Michael Vick also fits this category.

What is the difference between a guy that is the new shiny object and the guy that stands the test of time?

Look no further than the Kansas City Chiefs.

When Andy Reid traded Alex Smith for unproven Patrick Mahomes eyebrows raised. Reid was quick to put Mahomes in as the starter in just his second season, especially since Smith was playing at a pro-bowl level.

Was Reid losing his mind?  Well, no he wasn’t, Mahomes made all the throws and showed an ability to do it over time. Mahomes has elite skills. There are other quarterbacks that had elite skills and transformed them into Hall of Fame careers.

Steve Young comes to mind. He was a great runner. He was not a great passer but over time he became a master at throwing the ball and a Super Bowl winner.

Another guy similar to Young was Steve McNair – a great runner who became a great passer and came up one yard short of a Super Bowl win.

Let’s get back to the Baltimore Ravens and a recent decision they made.

What did they do again? Benched and then traded their second Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco was amazing for a good period of time. He made all the throws and won a Super Bowl.

Last season, in came a shiny new object named Lamar Jackson and out the door goes Flacco. People thought ‘here comes another Kaepernick a flash in the pan.’

Jackson was one dimensional he can’t make the throws, he won’t last, but he has proven this year he might be the best player in the league, not at just running but throwing as well. He is fun to watch.

It seems like a harsh and cold-hearted move to bench you Super Bowl-winning quarterback, but who said the NFL was anything but cold-hearted.

Will the Jaguars move pan out like some of these other moves? Only time will tell.

In the meantime winning a Super Bowl is no insurance that you are guaranteed a job the next season.

If you enjoyed this analysis check out Helmets Off wherever you find podcasts or on the KSL Sports app.

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