CHARLOTTE - When the Panthers host the Jaguars Sunday, two of the NFL's hottest young quarterbacks will be under center.
On one side will be someone who's more urban legend than NFL quarterback: Gardner Minshew, the rookie sensation known for his iconic handle bar mustache, bandana and aviator sunglasses. Jacksonville, and the league at large, has quickly been overcome by Minshew Mania, as the quarterback's style, signature pregame stretching routines and golden arm have demanded coverage from every sports outlet.
The other side will be led by Kyle Allen, the unexpected star responsible for turning around the Panthers' season. Unlike Minshew, there is no media circus revolving around Allen. Instead, the quarterback likes to keep to himself, reluctantly acknowledging his accomplishments and more often than not deflecting praise to his teammates. As Allen puts it, he's "pretty unnoticeable" outside of his No. 7 jersey, comparing himself to a room of journalists rather than an NFL star.
As opposite as Allen and Minshew may appear in the headlines, it turns out they're actually quite similar.
Neither player's path to starting in the NFL has been what you might call traditional. Most people, other than the quarterbacks themselves, never expected this kind of success heading into the season. But Allen isn't surprised.
"I think you just see guys seeing more young quarterbacks playing," Allen said. "Guys just letting it go and slinging it on Sundays. It's been cool to see a lot of young quarterbacks doing really well in the league."
Around the league, an influx of backup quarterbacks have been forced under center, and like Allen and Minshew, many of those are young. But unlike a number of those quarterbacks, neither Allen nor Minshew were particularly heralded newcomers.
Allen, who's been cut nearly as many times as he's started games, came to the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2018, while Minshew was taken by the Jaguars in the sixth round of this year's draft.
Both young quarterbacks transferred in college, with Allen playing at Texas A&M and Houston and Minshew making stops at ECU and Washington State.
And now, both quarterbacks have been thrust into the spotlight, but neither has to do it alone. Allen and Minshew get to rely on the first- and third-best rushers in the NFL right now in Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette. Each has shown flashes of brilliance, evading sacks and tossing touchdowns, and both quarterbacks have led their teams to two straight victories.
If the Panthers win on Sunday, Allen will become the first quarterback since Kurt Warner to win each of his first four starts. But in typical Allen fashion, that's not something he's concerned with.
"I mean, yeah, it'd be cool to go 4-0," Allen said. "But what would be really cool would be to win all the starts for our team that I can play. That's my job whenever my number is called to come and play, I need to win games for this team."
Allen has never been one to worry about individual statistics or awards, much less any sort of mania or frenzy named after him. What Allen really wants is simple.
"A win for the Panthers, how 'bout that?"