INDIANAPOLIS – Gardner Minshew II has arrived in his third NFL city in five years eager to extend his working relationship with Shane Steichen and open to whatever that entails.
“I really don’t have any expectations,’’ he said Friday. “I’ve come here to work hard and to have fun.
“If we do that every day, we’re going to end up in a good place.’’
It’s much too soon to project where that might be, or how Minshew figures into helping carry a team that finished with a seven-game losing streak and a 4-12-1 record last season to a place more acceptable.
The Indianapolis Colts are in major reboot mode at quarterback, and that began with the release of Matt Ryan earlier this week. It was expected, freed up $17.2 million in salary-cap space and assured the team will have its seventh different opening-day starter in September.
That might be whichever quarterback of the future general manager Chris Ballard selects with a top-4 pick in the April 27 draft.
Or it might be Minshew if the team believes the incoming rookie would benefit from sitting and learning behind a veteran before being exposed to NFL defenses. That’s a very real option after the Colts signed Minshew to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $3.5 million that could add another $2 million if play-time incentives are triggered.
Minshew isn’t wading into the What if? discussions.
“First off, assuming is always a dangerous game,’’ he said. “Like I said, I’ve come here to work hard and to help the team in any way I can. So, whatever that role is, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.’’
Minshew’s four-year career – the first two in Jacksonville, the past two in Philadelphia – exposed him to both aspects of the position. He started 24 of 34 games with the Jaguars – an 8-16 record with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions – only to be traded when they selected Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the ’21 draft.
The last two seasons with the Eagles, he worked as Jalen Hurts’ backup and was limited to nine games and four starts.
“It went by fast, I guess,’’ Minshew said. “A lot of fun, a lot of learning. Really looking forward to being able to use the experience I’ve had the last four years moving forward.’’
The Colts haven’t commented on Minshew’s acquisition, but it made too much sense for it not to occur. They were in the market for a reliable bridge to a rookie quarterback and Minshew was a valuable part of Steichen’s offense that past two seasons.
“Fired up to be working with Shane again,’’ Minshew said. “He’s a guy I have a ton of respect for, not only as a coach but just a guy.
“I’m really excited for how he is going to be as a head coach. You have to be on the same page, quarterback and playcaller. He does a very good job of kind of defining what we need, what he expects and what he wants out of each play. He’s very detailed and when you do that, it kind of takes some of the guesswork out and lets you play a little more freely within the rules, if that makes sense.’’
The Steichen/Minshew history can’t be overstated.
Minshew has been in the room the past two years as Steichen has sharpened the offense he and Nick Sirianni built, and the one Steichen will install in Indy. That intimate knowledge will prove invaluable if Minshew opens the season as the starter and as he helps indoctrinate a rookie quarterback.
It also should prove beneficial that Minshew has history with Colts’ first-year coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Cooter was an offensive consultant with the Eagles in 2021.
“I have a tone of respect for how he sees the game,’’ Minshew said. “I really look forward to working with him. He’s obviously been around, seen a lot of things.
“I love how he sees the game and it’s going to be a lot of fun to work with him and Shane.’’
Minshew mentioned two offensive pillars for Steichen’s offense.
“Explosive plays and turnovers,’’ he said. “If you look at who wins games in the NFL – teams that win the turnover battle and teams that win the explosive-play battle. If you do those things, you give yourself a real good chance.’’
Minshew provided both with the Eagles. He averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and 13 yards per completion while tossing seven touchdowns against four interceptions.
Again, Minshew spoke glowingly about Steichen.
“One of the biggest things about Shane is he’s just straight up. He tells it like it is. He’s himself all the time,’’ he said. “I think that allows for open and honest communication, especially in the quarterback room and that’s imperative.
“The connection between the quarterback and the playcaller, you really have to understand not only what he’s calling but why he’s calling it. I think that’s huge.’’
Although Minshew is new to town, he’s familiar with how the Colts operate. The Jaguars selected him in the sixth-round of the 2019 draft, but Minshew thought he might end up elsewhere.
“I was fired up to come here and work with Shane,’’ he said. “This is a place I thought was a possibility I could’ve came in the draft. I had some great meetings with Chris Ballard, and Nick Sirianni was actually here at the time.
“I love how Chris Ballard builds teams. They always have high character, hard-working teams that play hard and love football, and that shows up on tape.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for how they do things here.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.