Over a three-game period starting against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week Six, Gardner Minshew turned the ball over 9 times, with 4 fumbles lost and 5 picks thrown. While these turnovers certainly contributed, the Colts' opponents in that span of three games scored 37, 39, and 38 points, respectively.
These high-scoring games for the opposition necessitated a more aggressive offensive approach on behalf of Shane Steichen and the Colts' game scripts, which put Minshew in situations that made him more susceptible to turnovers. He was being asked to take risks for the opportunity that those risks offered.
The media and the public-at-large mocked the qb for his play, of course, despite the prolific offense that he helped push. This number of turnovers was absurd and certainly Minshew's propensity for turning the ball over was to blame for the Colts losing each of these games; this was the general consensus.
And then the Colts began a part of their schedule in which their opponents were either mediocre or woeful on offense prior to each of their games against Indy.
It seems to me that the coaching staff determined very reasonably that their defense was capable of leading the Colts in each of these games by winning the field-position battle and creating opportune takeaways. They likely held the belief that the biggest threat to their success was more offensive turnovers. Consequently, Gardner Minshew was asked to play a very conservative style that placed more value on methodical drives and risk-averse game-script.
Minshew went from 9 turnovers over the prior three games to turning the ball over twice over the next three games. The Colts won each game. Minshew stayed within himself, minimized risk, and helped the team achieve their ultimate goal of winning the game in each of those games.
Any reasonable person could see that Minshew was doing a nice job of fulfilling his responsibilities within the larger context of the team, helping the whole to achieve its' singular goal, and acknowledge his performance given what was being asked of him.
Instead the criticism came hard and fast about different weaknesses in the quarterbacks game.
"He's skittish in the pocket when there's no pressure;"
"His ADOT (average depth of target) is abysmal;"
"He is not accurate on many of his throws"...
These are all criticisms or variations on criticisms that have been lobbed continuously at him from all angles.
Did anybody stop to consider that maybe some of these 'flaws' in his game are actually examples of Gardner just executing his role responsibly?
Maybe you see him throw a pass a few yards away from a receiver. You think he can't aim, totally inaccurate. But what if he saw a cornerbacks eyes reading a route, suggesting that he might jump that route. If Minshew throws it directly toward his receiver, he may be putting the ball in harm's way. So he instead throws it to the safe side of the route, where it flutters harmlessly to the turf.
Anybody remember why he fumbled multiple times against Cleveland? Every time the Colts ran plays with deeper passing patterns, Gardner Minshew would take his five- or seven-step drop, putting him in the exact same spot many times. He has to sit in the pocket if he's to let the routes develop, but Myles Garrett knew the spot where the qb would set up on, like, 2/3 of the pass plays. Garrett didn't have to worry about keeping contain or changing his angles of pursuit; he just knew he had to get to that one spot that rarely changed. And he did. He freaked havoc, causing a few fumbles in the pocket by the quarterback. Of course, these were all Gardner Minshew's fault. How could he let Myles Garrett continue to torment him? Clearly, Minshew is garbage. It's not like Myles Garrett does that to every other quarterback, right?
So he was trash sitting back in the pocket and fumbling the ball. Then, in the current span of winning football, we see Minshew moving more in the pocket than he ever has. All of a sudden, the pass-rushers don't know for sure where Minshew will set up. And sure, Minshew might look uncomfortable at times, but why wouldn't he? This was a guy who was one of the best, most effective quarterbacks in the nation while working from either shotgun or the pistol, making pre-snap reads from spread formations and then making quick choices post-snap and getting the ball out quickly. The offense that he is native to keeps the quarterback is pretty much static in terms of quarterback movement. And yet, over the last three games we have seen him go against his nature and move around in the pocket. This shifting of his launch point has made a noticeable statistical difference: over the three-game losing streak, he was sacked 9 times and lost 4 fumbles. Since then, he has suffered 3 sacks and has not lost a fumble. And yet, all you will read is negative criticism about how bad he is at moving in the pocket, and how he lacks awareness of his surroundings.
I don't know if it is because people forgot the 'fantasy' aspect of fantasy football, because math dorks moved on from baseball to find something else they could criticize 'objectively,' or if all these people are just perfect at everything in their own lives so no level of achievement could possibly meets their expectations, but the constant negativity needs to subside.
Contemplate this schism:
*Justin Herbert, over the last three games, has hit his intended target, the appropriate target in his progression, on damn near every pass! All the incompletions bang off a receiver's hands or his face mask.
The Public Narrative: Herbert sucks! He isn't able to win and that is all that matters.
*Gardner Minshew: Playing the role of game manager, tries not to force throws, speeds up his time to throw while sacrificing opportunities for big plays to be safe, and also starts trying to move more in the pocket to help his line and minimize sacks/fumbles.
The Public Narrative: Minshew sucks! He is not making big plays and he's skittish in the pocket.
Herbert gets rained on for having stats but no wins. Minshew gets rained on for having wins but no stats.
It's an illogical paradox, but it also seems to be the general consensus. I suppose the NFL is appealing to morons...
If you find yourself thinking that everybody is trash, (especially when they consistently are leading their teams to wins - the ONLY statistic that counts) please make an appointment with the closest mental health professional as soon as possible, and I hope you find a better way to work through your own inadequacies.