Jalen Hurts has seen both highs-and-lows this NFL season with the Philadelphia Eagles, but head coach Nick Sirianni is confident in his second-year quarterback to start a must-win on Tuesday night.
Hurts is questionable for Tuesday’s rescheduled home game with the Washington Football Team, after missing the team’s 33-18 win over the New York Jets on December 5 due to an ankle injury. Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew excelled in Hurts’ absence, throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns as the team moved to 6-7 on the season and alive in the race for an NFC Wild Card berth.
With the team coming off its bye week, Sirianni has had a tough decision in who to start at quarterback at Lincoln Financial Field, but is confident in Hurts to step back in if needed.
“He was full today,” Sirianni said Friday about Hurts’ availability at practice. “He’s questionable, but he’s trending in the right direction and we’re hopeful. Of course, everything is in play. Always want to do what’s best for the player first and then the team. If he’s going, it’s because he’s healthy enough to go.
“We still had – [QB] Gardner [Minshew] had some things in there. He had a lot of the reps today, yeah. He looked good in the workout he did beforehand, and he took a lot of reps today, yeah,” Sirianni said.
Hurts has thrown for 2,435 yards and 13 touchdowns this season to go along with 695 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. His up-and-down play though at times has forced Eagles fans to call for Minshew’s stability under center, especially with four division games coming up which could make or break the season as a whole.
The team now has an extra two days off before facing Washington at home due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, giving Hurts extra time to prepare himself for a return as the team’s starter. Minshew might bring more consistency with his decision-making, but Hurts’ two-way ability as both a passer and rusher could be the x-factor the Eagles need to push for the playoff return.
“He was great,” Sirianni said about Hurts. “He’s, obviously, been in this mentally all week and ready to go all week, you know, preparing like he’s going all week, so I thought he had a great practice today. Again, feel hopeful with where Jalen is and the way he practiced today and the way he worked out today, so I’m excited about where we are.
“Obviously the sooner you know the better,” Sirianni said about knowing Hurts’ status as soon as possible. “Again, like I said, I feel pretty confident and feel really good about where he is at right now. The sooner you know the better, but that’s not always realistic. Sometimes you have to wait it out and sometimes you don’t have that liberty and you’re at the liberty of the ankle, the liberty of the player and how he feels, and what the trainers and the doctors and strength staff are telling you, too.”
The Eagles will have to deal with some returnees for Washington as defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat are off the COVID-19 list for Tuesday’s game.