Gardner Minshew’s first memory of Nick Sirianni came on a basketball court in 2019.
The Eagles coach, still an offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts at the time, challenged the quarterback prospect out of Washington State to a game of H-O-R-S-E during the predraft process.
Understandably eager to impress, Minshew showed up to his Colts visit in formal attire unfit for optimal performance on the court. He had an early advantage on Sirianni, who made headlines this offseason by challenging draft prospects to Rock, Paper, Scissors, but Minshew said he eventually regretted his wardrobe choice and had to make a change.
“I had a button-up on, and I had to take that off because the game was getting a little too competitive,” Minshew said.
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“I was up and then we started talking ball, he was kind of distracting me. I took my shirt off and it didn’t help. He just continued to beat me.”
The Eagles acquired Minshew from through a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday in exchange for a sixth-round pick. The 25-year-old was a few days removed from being named the backup in Jacksonville behind Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Minshew said he found out about the trade in the morning and was in Philadelphia by the end of the day.
“It’s kind of been a whirlwind,” he said. “As you know, I’m fired up to be here. I’m excited to be working with these guys. I’m just really looking forward to it.”
Minshew said he’s talked to Sirianni about a grudge match in H-O-R-S-E, but has also enjoyed their conversations about the offensive scheme he’s now quickly studying.
“Talking with Coach Sirianni, and hearing him talk ball just gets me fired up,” Minshew said. “He’s passionate about it. He knows it. I’m really excited to work with him.”
Minshew was a sixth-round pick by Jacksonville in 2019 and started 20 games in his two seasons there.He has completed 62.9% of his passes, throwing 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He opened his rookie season as Nick Foles’ backup but took over after the Eagles’ Super Bowl hero suffered a broken clavicle in his first game with his new team.
Last year, Minshew struggled with a thumb injury during the Jaguars’ one-win season and was unseated this summer by Lawrence, one of the best quarterback prospects in recent memory.
Despite his starting experience, Sirianni said Minshew is the third-string quarterback behind Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco for the time being, which he understands.
“I’m just here to help this team win in whatever capacity that is,” Minshew said. “I’m here to work hard, I gotta learn this offense first and help all the guys in our room. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity that I have in front of me.”
It remains to be seen whether Minshew spends the entire season as the third-stringer. The Eagles prioritized experienced backups during the offseason, signing Flacco and Nick Mullens before training camp. Flacco took all of the second-team reps during camp and played well in the preseason finale, starting because the team decided to rest Hurts. Mullens was cut.
When asked what drove the front office to make the trade for Minshew, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman reaffirmed his love for any and all quarterbacks.
“Everybody knows our priority on quarterbacks,” Roseman said Tuesday. “We’re obviously a quarterback — what’s the word — factory, yes. So, I think it’s a priority for us and we’re always going to invest in that position.”
Both Sirianni and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, formerly the Colts’ defensive backs coach, have experience going against Minshew the last few seasons.
Gannon said Minshew’s athleticism and accuracy stood out when game-planning for him.
“He presents a certain set of challenges when you’re going against him, for sure,” Gannon said. “He’s mobile. He’s accurate. He’s a really good athlete. So, we always had to be aware of his skill set that’s a little bit different than other quarterbacks. ... I always thought pretty highly of him.”