How living in a former prison bus gave Gardner Minshew perspective on backup QB role with Eagles

To say Gardner Minshew is eccentric is an understatement.

You might find him dressing like Uncle Rico, the fictional character from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite," as he did while arriving at the Eagles' game last season against the Detroit Lions.

And you just might find Minshew living out of an old prison bus, as he did during the offseason. Minshew parked the bus next to a gym in Bonita Springs, Florida, where he spent most of the offseason working out. As ESPN detailed, Minshew decorated the bus with an orange couch, shag white throw pillows, 1970s-style flowery bed covers, and album covers from the '70s hanging on the wall.

Minshew put the bus up for sale when he arrived at the Eagles' complex for training camp last month.

"A few things I’ve learned in this time," Minshew wrote on his Instagram post listing his bus for sale. "If you have a dream to chase, things to learn, and people to love, then you don’t need much else. It’s not as important to know what’s around the bend, as it is to trust that you’ll be able to handle whatever it is.

"And finally, bus lovin’ is some of the best lovin’ there is!"

But don't mistake Minshew's eccentricity for a lack of seriousness about his main job as the Eagles' backup quarterback.

That was evident Sunday, when Minshew started in place of Jalen Hurts in the Eagles' 21-20 preseason win over the Browns in the second preseason game. Hurts and the starters were held out of the game. Minshew completed his first six passes and led the Eagles to touchdowns on his first two drives.

Minshew played the entire first half. He finished 14-for-17 for 142 yards.

That's exactly what the Eagles would expect from their backup quarterback. That doesn't mean Minshew has to like it.

In fact, he doesn't, as he told Eagles coach Nick Sirianni last Dec. 5 after Minshew led the Eagles to a crucial 33-18 victory over the Jets when Hurts sat out with a sprained ankle.

Minshew completed 20 of 25 passes for 242 yards and two TDs that day. After the game, Minshew approached Sirianni and asked what it would take to win the starting job. Sirianni told him that it's Hurts' job.

NOT WORTH ITWhy Deshaun Watson wouldn't have worked as Eagles' QB; it's more than sexual assault suits

WATCH: Eagles' Devon Allen shows off Olympic speed with first career TD

PANTHERS: Baker Mayfield beats out Sam Darnold as Carolina starting QB

NFL NEWSLETTER: Sign up now to get football news delivered to your inbox

It's still Hurts' job. Nothing that happened Sunday will change that. And Minshew knows it.

"All I want to do is get better, man," Minshew told reporters Sunday when asked about being a backup. "In my mind, I’ve proved to myself that I can play in this league. That’s all that matters. I know that if I continue to get better, then I have a chance to have a really good career in this league."

It will probably have to be with another team. Make no mistake, Minshew could start for a number of teams, albeit not very good ones.

But the Eagles aren't likely to trade Minshew before this season. It's a long 17-game season and players get hurt. Last season, only 13 of the 32 teams had their quarterback play in every game.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) looks to pass against the Cleveland Browns during Sunday's preseason game.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) looks to pass against the Cleveland Browns during Sunday's preseason game.

The Eagles saw this firsthand on Aug. 12 against the Jets when Hurts was hit late out of bounds. The Eagles, no doubt, held their collective breath, but Hurts popped right up and finished the drive.

If the Eagles trade Minshew, then Reid Sinnett and Carson Strong would be Hurts' backups. Neither has ever taken a snap in an NFL game.

Minshew started two games last season − the other was the meaningless finale against Dallas because the Eagles had already clinched a playoff spot. He also started 20 games in two seasons with Jacksonville after the Jags drafted him in the sixth round in 2019.

By Week 2 of Minshew's rookie year, he was starting because Eagles' Super Bowl hero Nick Foles broke his collarbone. Minshew played so well that he won the job two weeks after Foles returned.

"The thing about Gardner, he can process it really quickly and he gets the ball out of his hands really quickly," Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said recently. "He’s played a good chunk of football, and he’s had a lot of experience playing in Jacksonville obviously. But you can see the growth in him in learning our offense with a year into it, just the decision-making and getting the ball out quick."

Minshew won't make many mistakes, although he got away with a huge one against the Browns when a potential 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was dropped at the Browns' goal line.

"That’s a mistake I don’t plan on making twice," Minshew said. "Great opportunity to get better and learn from."

That doesn't happen if Minshew is consumed by eccentricity.

By the way, Minshew told the NFL Network after the game that the bus is still for sale. He's asking $25,000.

Contact Martin Frank at Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Gardner Minshew excels as backup QB to Jalen Hurts after living on bus