Gardner Minshew

2020 Bears Schedule: Will Gardner Minshew mania grip Jacksonville again?

2020 Bears Schedule: Will Gardner Minshew mania grip Jacksonville again?

The game

The Bears will make a late-season visit to Jacksonville on Dec. 27. The last time the Bears faced the Jaguars, Jacksonville prevailed 17-16 on Oct. 16, 2016, thanks to a late TD pass from Blake Bortles to former Fighting Illini wide receiver Arrelious Benn. Rest assured, there will be some extra motivation on the sideline this time around, as former Jaguars Nick Foles and Allen Robinson face their ex-teammates.

Player to watch

The Bears will be facing the man who replaced Foles as Jaguars starting QB last season, Gardner Minshew. In 14 games, he threw for nearly 3,300 yards with 21 TD and 6 INT, but Jacksonville ranked just 26th in the league in total scoring and limped to a 6-10 record. Entering his first full season as the unquestioned starter, Minshew will have DJ Chark as a top target after the wideout exploded onto the scene last season.

RELATED: Bears 2020 schedule: Game-by-game predictions

Additions and subtractions

One defensive standout to keep an eye on is Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville’s best pass-rusher who had the franchise tag placed on him but has repeatedly demanded a trade. Whether or not a trade partner is found will be the biggest issue facing the team as they head toward training camp, whenever that may be. Jacksonville also added talented but injury-plagued tight end Tyler Eifert in free agency.

Key storyline

Since their tough loss in the 2018 AFC Championship game to the Patriots, the Jaguars have torn their roster to shreds as they move into the next era of their franchise. Standout players sent packing over the last year or so include Calais Campbell, Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Marcell Dareus, and of course, Nick Foles.

New GM David Caldwell is nearly done purging the roster, and that means this Jacksonville team will be playing the long game and likely setting themselves up for a top pick in next year’s draft.

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Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew thought he was going to be a Bear

Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew thought he was going to be a Bear

Minshew Mania took the NFL by storm in 2019, and it almost happened in Chicago.

Minshew told Fansided's Mark Carmen that the Bears were the only other team besides the Jacksonville Jaguars that he had a formal meeting with at the 2019 Scouting Combine. "I loved it, meeting with (Matt) Nagy and all those guys," Minshew said. "They were awesome. We got to talk some really good ball. For a while, I thought that was going to be a real possibility. But you know what? I ended up right where I was supposed to be."

The rookie sixth-round quarterback from Washington State enjoyed an unexpected rise to stardom after replacing an injured Nick Foles in the Jaguars' starting lineup. He was an effective NFL quarterback who threw for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in 12 starts.

Minshew is one of the first names mentioned when formulating a Bears offseason quarterback strategy, too. He represents the Day-3 upside pick that GM Ryan Pace should try to find in 2020, even if Chicago adds a veteran to compete with Mitch Trubisky this summer.

Hindsight is 20/20, but had the Bears actually pulled the trigger on Minshew last year, there's little doubt he would've ascended to QB1 and never looked back. He proved in just 12 starts in 2019 that he has a more natural feel for the pocket and a better playmaker's mentality than Trubisky, who's logged 41 regular-season starts in three seasons in Chicago.

It's also worth noting the amount of time the Bears spent with Minshew, considering one of the knocks against him was the offense he was coming from. Mike Leach's system at Washington State isn't known for producing quality NFL starters, but Chicago's willingness to meet with Minshew suggests they might also be willing to give long consideration to Anthony Gordon, who excelled under Leach as a Cougar in 2019 with 5,579 yards and 48 touchdowns.

At least we know the Bears did some homework on quarterback prospects in 2019. Now, it's time to deliver results and not allow another Minshew-type gem slip away.