It looks like Gardner Minshew will be starting for the Eagles today, which I think is a really good thing for this team.
First off, let's look at who Minshew is. A former sixth-round pick, he has 20 career starts in which he throws for an average of 230 yards a game. He has a decent TD rate at 4.6 percent and a decent interception rate at 1.4 percent.
He seems to be in the Baker Mayfield/Teddy Bridgewater/Tyrod Taylor zone of "not quite good enough to be a quality starter, but better than a typical backup." He completes a decent percentage of passes (63 percent) and avoids making huge mistakes. But he also has a career record of 7-13, including a 1-7 mark when he was the starter for the Jags in 2020. At the same time, he was noticeably better than Mike Glennon, a career backup who will start today or the Giants. He threw for 35 more yards per game, with more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. He has issued with fumbles, and also takes a lot of sacks, but that seems to be a function of him staying in the pocket too long, an issue that absolutely no one in Philly will complain about after weeks of watching Hurts bail too early.
It should also be noted that he was much better than Nick Foles in 2019. He had a much better year in terms of yards per attempt, TDs and interceptions.
So, in other words, he's not a bad player, and could be really effective for us. As noted, one of Hurts' biggest problems is that he didn't trust his protection, whereas Minshew swings the completely opposite direction. This could lead to a greater number of sacks, but it could also give our speedy receivers time to beat coverage, which might lead to some much bigger plays downfield.
To me, this is a great opportunity to see what we have possibly been missing. With Minshew in the game, we can dial up way more designed passing plays as opposed to the read options and RPOs that have been a staple of the offense. He should be particularly effective out of play action and I would expect the running backs will be much more involved in the pass game as he will be more likely to use checkdowns as opposed to running.
He will also be facing a defense that gives up almost 400 yards per game, and I am sure he will be chomping at the bit to prove what he can do behind a solid offensive line, something he never had in Jacksonville.
One thing I will be watching closely is how the running game is impacted by the loss of Hurts. Obviously we will run for fewer yards since I anticipate far fewer attempts, but the number I will be watching is yards per carry. Right now, with Hurts, we average just over 5 yards per attempt. If that number holds steady under Minshew, it would be interesting, as he is often credited with helping to boost the rushing attack.
I have noticed that some insiders on twitter have stated that the team will not be viewing this as anything other than a spot start by a backup, and will have no bearing on the rest of the season. And I believe that to be true. But I also think that, if Minshew has a big day, and I completely believe that is possible, than it could drastically alter the team's plans heading into next season.
A qb who hangs in the pocket and keeps his eyes downfield, and allows his receivers to work open, could be just what this passing game needs to start working properly. Who knows, this could be the game where Jalen Reagor finally gets to show off his athletic ability.
A week after a qb cost us a game in the Meadowlands, the narrative around this team could change quite quickly if a qb goes into that same stadium and wins us a game, especially if he does it through the air, and not with his legs. I don't know if it would change the team's short-term thinking, but it could definitely get them thinking about making a change in the future. That future wouldn't necessarily include Minshew, since he is at best a fringe starter. But I could see them getting way more interested in one of the prospects this year - Pickett, Corral, Howell - whom they might feel could be a better version of Minshew.
In other words, this could be a very big game for the future of the franchise. If this offense explodes, it is impossible to think that the performance wouldn't have an impact on the GM/owner, and make Jalen Hurts' leash even shorter than it already is.