Like Zack Moss, Gardner Minshew’s audition for next year begins now

With a strong early campaign for Zack Moss already underway, Gardner Minshew is playing for a job next season and another chance to be a full-time starter.
Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens / Rob Carr/GettyImages

The Indianapolis Colts have several players who are in contract years. In a pivotal year for the franchise, it’s also a pivotal year for players hoping to prove their worth to Indy, or one of the other 31 teams in the league. Among those players are Gardner Minshew and Zack Moss. Both were originally supposed to just be backups— Minshew to Anthony Richardson and Moss to Jonathan Taylor. However, they have received a bigger role than anticipated, and are currently proving their value.

Zack Moss has been delivering for Colts

It started in training camp and has lingered into the season for Zack Moss. With starting RB Jonathan Taylor embroiled in a contract dispute with the franchise, all eyes turned to Zack Moss at the start of training camp. Even when hope went to concern with his broken arm, we all knew it was still going to be Zack Moss as the featured back until Taylor returned. The point was made even more clear when rookie Evan Hull tore his meniscus and then, now released, Deon Jackson underwhelmed in the season opener.

Through the four games Moss has played, he has 89 carries for 445 yards and four total touchdowns. That puts him third on the NFL rushing list behind Christian McCaffery and De’Von Achane. Heading into next season, it appears unlikely the Colts will want to pay two running backs a substantial amount of the salary cap. Moss has done everything asked of him for this football team this year and even with the ramp up of Taylor’s production, it appears Moss will still have a role with this team going forward.

With rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson now sidelined with a shoulder injury— possibly for the remainder of the season— Minshew now has an opportunity to prove his value to the NFL.

Gardner Minshew’s new opportunity

This is not Minshew’s first opportunity to start a chunk of football games in the NFL. He was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 178th-overall pick (sixth round) in the 2019 NFL Draft. He did get some starting experience when Nick Foles went down early in the season of his rookie year, and he finished with a 6-8 record on 14 appearances. Gardner Minshew’s overall record as a starter isn’t great, sitting at 9-16.

He has made his reputation in the NFL by being the consummate teammate and fill-in backup. Minshew did start the Colts’ game against Baltimore this season after a concussion sidelined starter Anthony Richardson. The Colts won that game 22-19 in overtime. He has been a great tutor for Richardson having learned the Shane Steichen offense from his time in Philadelphia. With Minshew now the starter for at least the next four games, his audition to get a starting job with another team for next season begins in Week 6 against the Jaguars.

What is the future for Gardner Minshew and Zack Moss?

With the trade deadline approaching, the Colts will most likely be an active team this time around. Indy might take some calls on Zack Moss as we inch closer to November. With Taylor returning, finding a feasible backup isn’t a difficult task. Contenders who want to shore up their running back room might look at Moss. Think of teams like Baltimore or Cleveland.

As for Minshew, he will not be going anywhere this season, as the looming decision of whether or not Anthony Richardson will have season-ending surgery is hovering over the franchise. The Colts are firmly in the playoff race right now and Minshew will be the focal point of this team and its success. Minshew has a unique opportunity to show his value as a starter. This is every quarterback’s dream scenario, and if successful, Minshew will have the ability to decide to keep his role as a mentor or potentially get one last shot as a starter in this league.