Backup QB To Start Vs. Dallas With NFC East Title At Stake
The Eagles are expecting backup quarterback Garnder Minshew to start Saturday night against the Cowboys in place of an injured Jalen Hurts.
Head coach Nick Sirianni said Thursday that “it’s looking that it’s going to be Gardner,” adding that Hurts “did everything he could to get his body ready to go.”
Hurts suffered a shoulder sprain in the third quarter of Sunday’s 25-20 win over the Bears. He finished the game and played well in the fourth quarter, but underwent tests after the game that revealed the sprain.
Minshew will get the chance to lead the Eagles to an NFC East clinch, which the team can do with a win over the rival Cowboys on Christmas Eve in Arlington, Texas. Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m. at AT&T Stadium.
This will be Minshew’s second consecutive start against the Cowboys. His last start came at the Linc in Philadelphia in last year’s season finale, a 56-21 Dallas win in which the Eagles rested almost all starters in preparation for their NFC Wild Card game against Tampa Bay.
Minshew’s only other Eagles start came Week 13 against the Jets, in place of an injured Hurts, who had sprained his ankle. Minshew completed 20 of 25 passes for 242 yards and threw two touchdowns – both to tight end Dallas Goedert, for 25 and 36 yards – in the 33-18 blowout at MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles traded for Minshew near the end of last year’s training camp, sending a conditional sixth-round pick to the Jaguars for the third-year quarterback, who caught nationwide attention as rookie for his eccentric personality – he commonly wore tight denim cut-off shorts and sported a handlebar mustache and moppy hair– when he replaced injured Jags starter Nick Foles in the season opener.
Minshew, a sixth-round pick who went 178th overall, passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut with a 122.5 passer rating. He started the next eight games, led the Jags to a 4-4 record in that span and registered three passer ratings above 100.0.
Although “Minshew Mania” was brief in Jacksonville, the quarterback totaled seven Rookie of the Week awards that season. He opened the 2020 season as the Jags’ starter but lost six of his first seven starts and lost his starting job.
Sirianni said Hurts wasn’t thrilled with the decision and lauded the third-year quarterback and MVP candidates toughness.
“I know he still wants to go,” Sirianni said. “Jalen Hurts is the toughest player I’ve ever been around.”
Minshew missed Tuesday’s walkthrouh to attend, and speak at, the funeral of his college head coach, Mike Leach, who died suddenly last week because of complications related to a heart condition.
Minshew returned to Philadelphia that evening and was at practice Wednesday.
“Gardner worked his butt off for this opportunity against a really good football team,” Sirianni said. “Had a great practice yesterday. …A lot of energy out there. He’s ready to go.”
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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