More Sports:

December 22, 2022

Gardner Minshew will start against Dallas

"Gardner will be our guy. Gardner will be ready," said head coach Nick Sirianni of Saturday's starting QB

It'll be Gardner Minshew under center Saturday against Dallas. 

"It's looking like it's gonna be Gardner," head coach Nick Sirianni said Thursday morning. "Jalen did everything he possibly could to get his body ready to go and just at the end of the day, he's not gonna 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."

Hurts suffered a sprained throwing shoulder late in the third quarter of last Sunday's win in Chicago. He stayed in for the fourth and even completed a crucial 68-yard pass to A.J. Brown that set up the deciding touchdown. It lent credence to the idea that he could still play this week after news of his injury broke on Monday, though it always seemed highly unlikely, even when the Eagles were initially being coy about his status

"We have to do what's best as an organization to put him in a safe spot because he'll play through anything," Sirianni said. "He showed that in that fourth quarter against Chicago.

"He wants to be out there with his teammates, but those are hard conversations you have to have sometimes."

So in comes Minshew on a short week, with the Eagles having a chance to clinch the NFC East and the conference's No. 1 seed in the playoffs if they can beat their hated rival. 

"Gardner will be our guy. Gardner will be ready," Sirianni said. "Gardner worked his butt off for this opportunity against a really good football team. He had a great practice yesterday...A lot of energy out there. He's ready to go."

Minshew made a spot start against the Jets on December 5 of last season and put up a highly respectable outing in the Meadowlands. With Hurts needing extra time to deal with an ankle injury, the Eagles' backup went 20-25 passing for 242 yards and two touchdowns in a win that kept the team's playoff hopes alive. 

In the Week 18 finale, after the Eagles locked in their postseason spot, he got the start again alongside the second-stringers. The Cowboys, looking to improve their playoff positioning, played their first team. That game didn't go anywhere near as well. 

This time, Minshew will be stepping back in with all the starters – one of the strongest offensive lines in the league, two of its best route runners in receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and returning tight end Dallas Goedert, who was the main target for Minshew last season against the Jets.

The Eagles ran a walkthrough on Tuesday, but Minshew was excused from it to attend the funeral service for Mike Leach, his college coach at Washington State who passed away last week from a heart condition

There were Zoom and Facetime calls with Minshew running through clips and the gameplan when he was available, Sirianni said, but the team made sure to respect his time away to honor his former coach. 

"There's a lot of communication that went back and forth," Sirianni said. "We felt like we didn't miss a beat right there."

"Obviously, he missed the walkthrough plays, but he's so on it right now and we feel really good about where he is mentally. That's just never an issue with Gardner. He's gotta always go through that process of 'You might not get a lot of reps but be ready to go,' because that's just his job as a backup quarterback."

Hurts has thrown for 3,472 yards and 22 touchdowns so far this season and rushed for 747 yards and 13 more scores on the ground in a campaign that has shot him right to the top of the MVP conversation. 

Ideally, the Eagles want him in for likely their biggest game of the regular season, but at the same time, they'd much rather have him healthy and ready for the playoff run. 

Sirianni was asked about a possible return for Hurts next week against New Orleans, but right now there's only Dallas in front of him. 

"Yeah, I'm not gonna go there yet," he said. "We'll take it one day at a time, one game at a time." 

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports