Gardner Minshew is expected to start for the Philadelphia Eagles this week, with the opportunity to clinch the division against the Dallas Cowboys. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni announced the decision Thursday.”It’s looking like it’s gonna be Gardner,” Sirianni said. “Jalen (Hurts) did everything he possibly could to get his body ready to go. At the end of the day, he’s just not going to be able to do it. He tried like crazy, and I know he still wants to go. Jalen Hurts is the toughest player I’ve ever been around.”The Eagles need just one win in the final three games to clinch the NFC East and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Minshew started one game in place of Hurts last season, completing 20 of 25 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions with a 133.7 rating. He also started the Eagles’ Week 18 finale against the Cowboys, but Philadelphia had a playoff spot clinched and rested its starters. “Gardner has played a lot of football. He’s a smart, competitive guy that understands the game,” Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said this week. “If Gardner is out there, we have all the confidence in the world in him that he’s going to go out and execute, and those conversations that myself and him have throughout the week leading up to the game, if he’s the guy, then we’ll be ready to go.”
Earlier in the week, Sirianni confirmed Hurts suffered a sprained right shoulder in Sunday’s win over the Chicago Bears, yet wouldn’t rule the league MVP candidate out for this week’s game against the Cowboys. Hurts had X-rays on the shoulder Monday, and based on results, Sirianni said the team doesn’t view the injury to be “long term.” “This guy is a great backup quarterback that could be starting on teams in this league, and we know that,” Sirianni said. “He doesn’t need a lot of reps. He’s ready to go because of the football IQ he has, the intelligence he has.”If he has to go, we’ll have 100% confidence in him because he can ball. He proved that last year. I think he’s proven that throughout his career. He’s a winner. He’s a winner. That’s all he knows how to do.”
As for Hurts himself, he told reporters earlier in the week there was “definitely a chance” he would play Saturday.”I’m taking it day by day,” Hurts said. “Everybody knows that I’m dealing with something. I think it’s pretty public. It’s out there. I’m not really one to talk about myself. Obviously, being the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles you can’t run from that. But I’m taking everything one day a time with it, and preparing for a really good defense.”
Hurts has completed 67.3% of his passes for 3,472 yards with 22 touchdowns to just five interceptions on the season (104.6 rating), while rushing for 747 yards and 13 touchdowns. Hurts’ 35 combined touchdowns on the season tied Randall Cunningham’s franchise record (1990), and he was on pace to become the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 800 yards on the season prior to the injury.
The Eagles will ride with Minshew for this week, then reevaluate Hurts going into their Week 17 matchup withe the New Orleans Saints. Hurts will certainly benefit from the extra week of rest.