The tank talk when it came to the 2020 Jacksonville Jaguars never passed a critical-thinking test. Instead of letting the nonsense linger, Gardner Minshew and his young teammates shut it up quickly.
The youthful upstarts parried every attack, outlasting the Indianapolis Colts, 27-20, to open the season with a divisional win.
"When they are playing with confidence, you love a young team that plays with confidence," Minshew said of his teammates, via the team's official website. "They have the energy.
"They got that swag about them."
Jaguars rookies played key roles all over the field. Undrafted running back James Robinson led the backfield with 62 yards on 16 carries and added a 28-yard reception; second-round receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. caught three passes for 37 yards, including a 15-yard TD; first-round corner C.J. Henderson had an interception and three passes defended -- a big one on a fourth-and-4 to clinch the win; nose tackle DaVon Hamilton earned two tackles; and first-rounder K'Lavon Chaisson had two tackles and a pick that was negated by a defensive penalty.
Minshew, who threw just one incomplete pass on 20 attempts with three TDs, knows what it means to perform well in your first NFL game. It was last year in Week 1 when he took over for an injured Nick Foles, and Minshew Mania was unleashed.
"You always say 'I know I can play in this league', but until you do it...you know..." Minshew said. "I know this time last year that was the time when I was really like 'I really can do it.' Our guys have that same confidence where they know that they belong here, and not only do they belong, but they can be really good players for us."
The Jags stripped down the roster to allow younger players a chance to earn roles. They proved that plan wasn't completely insane in Week 1.
Credit should also go to the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who called a spectacular game and had Indy's head spinning.
Coach Doug Marrone said, despite his team being young and not together for most of the summer, it is the closest group he's led.
"I've always been constantly pushing this team, I've never gone back, I've never said, 'Hey, we've had this problem, we've had this problem, or I didn't like this, or I didn't like that,'" Marrone said. "I think a lot of us sometimes we can tend to lose faith in team, just the word team. And this team has really instilled that faith for me. And I can only talk about myself, about how they feel about each other, how close I feel to them-I feel, with no disrespect to any other team I've been on, outside of just being a line coach and having your own room, this is the closest I've felt to a team since I've been a head coach."
Wins have a way of making everything seem rosy. If the young bucks continue to play well, it will be a heck of a story out of Jacksonville. How the youth reacts when the first sign of difficultly presents itself in 2020 will truly tell the story of what sort of squad Marrone is leading.