Sirianni: ‘It's going to be Gardner'


Nick Sirianni announced what we all already suspected.

Jalen Hurts won't play.

Sirianni said Thursday that backup quarterback Gardner Minshew will start for the 13-1 Eagles against the 10-4 Cowboys Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in a crucial NFC East game that will go a long way toward determining the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket.

If the Eagles win, they lock up the top seed and a first-round bye. If the Cowboys win, they keep alive their hopes of securing the No. 1 seed and relegating the Eagles to the No. 5 seed, although it would take Eagles losses to the Saints and Giants and Cowboys wins over the Titans and Commanders to do it.

"It's looking like it's going to be Gardner," Sirianni said Thursday morning. "Jalen did everything he possibly could to get his body ready to go, and at the end of the day, he's 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. My brother and I talked last night, and he's like, 'Man, how did he play through that? He did that to his shoulder? How did he throw any passes after that?' 

"I said because he's the toughest son of a gun that I've ever been around, and for him to go out there and do what he did after he had that sprained shoulder, it was really, truly remarkable that he was able to play but not just play but play really well. 

"He's so tough, but we just felt like it's the best thing that he doesn't play this week. His body's just not there yet."

Sirianni wouldn't get into how confident he is that Hurts will be ready in case he needs to play a week from Sunday, when the Eagles face the Saints at the Linc.

"You know I'm not going to go there yet," he said. "We'll take it one day at a time, one game at a time. He's worked his butt off to try to get himself back. We'll see day by day where he is."

Hurts suffered a sprained shoulder near the end of the third quarter of the Eagles' win over the Bears Sunday in Chicago when he was slammed to the ground by Bears defensive end Trevis Gipson. 

He was very slow to get up, but he didn't miss a snap and went 7-for-10 for 110 yards the rest of the way, including a 68-yard completion to A.J. Brown with 5½ minutes left that set up the clinching touchdown -- a one-yard Hurts TD run.

Hurts on Tuesday said he felt like he had a chance to play against Dallas. He's one of only 13 quarterbacks to start every one of his team's games this year.

"Definitely a chance," said Hurts, named to his first Pro Bowl team Wednesday. "I'm feeling fine, feeling fine. It's a week where we're keeping everything business as usual. We're playing a really good team, a really good opponent and doing everything we can on a short week to be at full health."

But Hurts didn't participate in Tuesday's walkthrough or Wednesday's full practice, and with the short week leading up to Dallas, the odds that he'd be ready seemed remote.

"Obviously, he's disappointed," Sirianni said. "He's disappointed because he wants to play. Like I said, toughest guy I know. But we have to do what's best as an organization to put him in a safe spot because he played through anything and he showed that in that fourth quarter against Chicago because he did play through it, he played through everything. 

"So he's disappointed, he wants to be out there with his teammates, but those are hard conversations that you have to have sometimes."

Minshew won his only meaningful start as an Eagle, against the Jets late last year at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, with two touchdown passes to Dallas Goedert.

He's got 41 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in his career and trails only Aaron Rodgers in NFL history in interception ratio with one every 72 passes.

"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, had a great practice (Wednesday), a lot of energy out there, and he's ready to go."

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