The 5-7 Eagles kick off the final month of the season in Metlife Stadium for the second week in a row. This time, it’s against the 3-8 New York Jets. Also this time the Birds will be without their QB1.
Here’s three storylines:
Jalen Hurts’s sore ankle will sideline him for the Jets game Sunday, according to veteran Eagles reporter Derrick Gunn.
Former Jacksonville Jaguar Gardner Minshew, who became the QB2 when the Eagles traded Joe Flacco to the Jets in October, will make his first start in an Eagles uniform.
Hurts got hurt in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ loss to the New York Giants on Sunday and was limited in practice during the week. Hurts said on Wednesday he planned on playing — “It’s fine, I’ll be ready to go” — but apparently the injury will now keep him out.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said during the week the offense will look different in some ways if Minshew plays. The Eagles have been very run-heavy the last five weeks, but that could change on Sunday, especially with the Eagles banged up at running back.
Hurts hasn’t missed a meaningful snap this year and is one of 15 NFL quarterbacks to start each of his team’s games. He has started the Eagles’ last 20 games since replacing Carson Wentz last December.
Minshew had a 7-13 record in 20 starts for the Jaguars in 2019 and 2020 and has a 93.1 career passer rating, which is 20th-highest in NFL history among QBs who’ve thrown at least 750 passes. This will be his first start since last December 20, 2020, when he was 22-for-29 for 226 yards with two TDs and no interceptions against the Ravens in Baltimore.
In his only playing time this year, Minshew was 2-for-2 for 11 yards during the final minutes of the Eagles’ 44-6 win in Detroit in October.
Head coach Nick Sirianni said Friday Jalen Hurts got more than half the first-team reps during the week, adding, “ I feel confident that both of them will be ready to go when either of their numbers are called.”
Banged up at RB
The number one rushing attack in the NFL is experiencing a running back shortage.
The Eagles’ deep stable of running backs is hurting this week. Boston Scott didn’t practice all week because of an illness, Jordan Howard will miss a second straight week with a knee injury, and Miles Sanders hopes to play but has been dealing with an ankle injury that sidelined him for three games and forced him to leave the Giants game early Sunday.
Which leaves rookie Kenny Gainwell as the only healthy running back on the roster. And he has four carries since October.
Scott is listed as questionable for the Jets, and Sanders has no injury designation after being a full participant in practice on Friday. The Eagles will likely activate Jason Huntley from the practice squad, but they will have to hope Sanders can get through a game healthy and Scott gets over his sickness in the next day or the cupboard will be bare Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing with 158 yards per game, their most through 12 games since 1950.
Oh by the way, Hurts leads the Eagles with 695 yards, a 5.7 average and eight rushing TDs. And he’s out as I said.
Sanders leads the running backs with 458 yards and a 5.2 average, Scott has 285 yards and a 4.78 average and Howard has 274 yards and a 5.4 average. Gainwell has 155 yards and a 3.6 average.
We know Sanders will play and we know Howard won’t play. Scott is the wild card.
Back to Huntley, he’s a one-time Lions fifth-round pick, played in five games for the Eagles last year and had 19 rushing yards on five carries. He’s been on the practice squad all year following an excellent training camp.
The Jets are 27th in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 129 yards per game, and 29th in pass defense at 266 yards per game. They’re 31st overall in defense at 395 and last in points allowed at 30 per game.
1st-rounder not looking too hot
In his first seven starts, the Jets used their second-overall pick in the draft on Zach Wilson, who has thrown four touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and has been sacked 23 times. He’s the first NFL QB since Geno Smith in 2013 to throw 10 interceptions and get sacked at least 23 times in his first seven career starts. He’s been held without a TD pass in five of his last six games.
He’s on pace to have the lowest passer rating by a first-round pick in 12 years.
This is such an opportunity for the Eagles’ defense to make life miserable for an opposing quarterback.
It’s been obvious watching Wilson that he isn’t ready for the NFL.
The Eagles have been among the worst in the NFL getting sacks (30th) and interceptions (22nd), and if they can’t make a bunch of big plays against Wilson Sunday, I don’t know if they ever will. Not just pressure him, but sack him. Not just knock passes down, but pick them off.
Don’t let Wilson stand in the pocket and fire away and build confidence. If they can, they’ll win by double digits.
Catch the game at 1:00pm ET on CBS. Listen on 94.1 WIP.