Nick Sirianni declined to name a starting quarterback for the Eagles’ crucial game against the Saints Sunday, saying he might not decide until just before gametime whether it will be Jalen Hurts or Gardner Minshew.
Hurts missed last week’s loss to the Cowboys after suffering a sprained right (throwing) shoulder in the win over the Bears on Dec. 18. Minshew started and threw for 355 yards in the Eagles’ 40-34 loss.
Hurts returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday, but Sirianni said he still hasn’t seen enough to name the 24-year-old Pro Bowler as the starter against the Saints Sunday at the Linc.
“We’re still sorting through that,” Sirianni said. “Jalen had a good practice (Thursday) and did some things really well. Still going to sort through all those things. Haven’t decided anything yet. Still have a couple days.
“I think you can take it up to gameday. He’s still healing. He’s still going through these things. Two days from now he’s going to be healthier than he is today.”
Kickoff Sunday is scheduled for 1 p.m. so the Eagles have until 11:30 a.m. to name their inactives. Presumably, if Hurts isn’t starting, he won’t be active. So there’s a chance we won’t know who’s playing until 90 minutes before kickoff.
What does Sirianni need to see from Hurts over the next couple days to feel comfortable playing him?
“Always going to go back to what the doctors are saying and what Jalen is saying and where we think he is at that time,” he said. “I don’t think it’s, ‘Hey, I’ve got to see him throw it 57 yards on the left hash.’ It’s never going to be anything like that. It’s going to be about the information I get from Jalen and knowing how badly he wants to play that I have to listen to the doctors as well and then we have to make a decision that’s best for Jalen.
“Everything’s in play. Obviously, the first and foremost thing that’s most important for Jalen is that his health is always taken into consideration first and if it’s safe for him to be out there, and then from there you do what’s best for the team. But first you do what’s best for the individual.”
The Eagles, 13-2, can lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket with a win over the Saints or a win on Jan. 8 against the Giants, also at the Linc.
Hurts wanted to play last week and obviously wants to play Sunday. Which makes it trickier to make a call on this.
Sirianni knows Hurts is going to say he’s ready even if he might not be.
“That’s why it can’t just be him,” he said. “He’s going to want to be out there no matter what. In my opinion, he’s going to say what he needs to say to play. That’s why it’s a group effort to figure it out.
“Jalen’s health is the first thing that you think of and so we all have to be responsible for that. Jalen – and we urge him to be as truthful as he possibly can – but then also what the doctors are seeing, all those different things. That’s why it’s not just one guy’s decision. Because if it was just Jalen’s decision, he would go out there and play.”
Minshew played well against the Cowboys, and even his two interceptions weren’t entirely his fault.
If he starts and the Eagles win, then Hurts won’t have to play until the conference semifinal round, which is Jan. 21-22. That would give Hurts a full five weeks of rest after the Bears game.
If Minshew starts and the Eagles lose Sunday, then we’ll be back next week where we are now. Figuring out if Hurts can play.
It all makes life a little more difficult for Minshew, who not only doesn’t know if he’s playing but has to split reps.
“Gardner’s been in this position where he has to do everything he can to prepare on limited reps, but Gardner’s a great pro and we’ve got a lot of confidence that he’ll be ready no matter what the scenario is,” Sirianni said.
“Gardner will make sure that he’s ready because that’s just the type of guy he is and that’s the role that he has to play.”