The Eagles were back at work on Tuesday and head coach Nick Sirianni and spoke to reporters, notably about Jalen Hurts’ shoulder injury and what it means for his availability moving forward. He also talked about how they try and protect the QB, but his dual-threat ability is what allows the offense to be explosive, and about how the developmental period they’ve installed at practice will help Gardner Minshew be ready if he plays on Saturday.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Jalen Hurts’ injury and availability
Sirianni noted, as he always does, that he’s not going to put a timetable on anyone’s injury, including Hurts’, but acknowledged that the QB does have a sprained shoulder.
“I don’t put anything past Jalen Hurts, as far as his mental and physical toughness, so there’s a chance he could play this week. He is one of the toughest guys I know, and he heals fast — he’s a freak. His body is not like, pardon me, yours or mine.”
The head coach went on to emphasize that he will not rule Hurts out or put a timetable on him, and “we’ll see” how the week goes. Both Hurts and Gardner Minshew will be ready to play on Saturday as they prepare this week. Sirianni explained that they’ll have to prepare game plans for both quarterback options, and admitted that things will look a little different if Minshew is back there just because he has different preferences than Hurts.
As for what needs to happen for Hurts to be able to play on Saturday, Sirianni said that it’s just about healing and how well that happens. He explained that the injury happened in the third quarter against the Bears, and the QB was able to finish out the game and still make impressive throws, so pain tolerance isn’t something he’s worried about with Hurts.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor, [has] unbelievable toughness. Which is why every time there’s a question about Jalen, the first thing that you get, regardless of how he’s playing or whatnot, is about his leadership ability and his toughness both mentally and physically. So, it’ll be more about the healing with Jalen than it will be about the pain, because he can play through anything.”
Sirianni wasn’t quite sure if Hurts would participate in Tuesday’s walk-through and had to discuss with the medical and training staff whether the QB would be rehabbing during that time, instead.
As for Hurts suffering two injuries, both in December, Sirianni pointed out that last season he was injured in the pocket on a sack, and Sunday’s injury was on a zone read. The head coach went on to say that in order for them to be the kind of explosive offense that they want to be, Hurts needs to be able to pass the ball — an area he’s displayed continued growth — and have that dual-threat ability with his legs. Sirianni pointed to his dual-threat ability to why the QB is in the MVP race.
“We’re always going to think of his safety first.”
Sirianni acknowledged that some of the criticism to having him run so much is results driven. When he ran for 180 yards against Green Bay, everyone was saying MVP, and then when he runs a lot against the Bears, the coaches are being criticized.
“I understand that, but we are who we are as an offense, explosively, scoring-wise, all those different things, because Jalen can do so many things, both running the football and passing the football.”
The head coach was asked why they wouldn’t be patient with Hurts’ injury and his return the field, but Sirianni said that they don’t take anything for granted. He said they still need to take care of business, and we all know they need to win one more game to win the division and that’s their first goal they want to accomplish.
“If a guy is ready to play, then he’s ready to play. We’re never going to put the guy in a scenario where we’re going to be detrimental to him or set him back, so it is all about if he is ready to play. And we think that’s a possibility.”
He later said that it’s not about balancing the now with getting ready for the playoffs, they have to do what they have to do to win this game. Sirianni did acknowledge that sometimes they do have to step him and hold someone back who might be trying to play even if they aren’t ready, saying that it’s their job to protect the players.
On Gardner Minshew
“He’s what you want out of your backup quarterback, to be ready with limited reps. Now, we’re able to do things differently here, then I think in most places I’ve been — we take a lot of time, we have a lot of developmental reps.”
Sirianni explained last week that some of the developmental periods that they stuck with last year, they’ve continued this year — even calling them the Gardner Minshew reps. The backup QB wasn’t in training camp in 2021, but those reps he got in practice made him able to come in late in the season when Hurts was injured and help lead the team to the playoff. They opted to continue those periods during training camp this year and even into the season.
Note: Minshew will not be at Philly’s Tuesday walkthrough.
Busy week for Gardner Minshew— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 20, 2022
I’m told he will be back with Eagles later today after he gives a eulogy for his college coach, Mike Leach, who passed away. Eagles are just having a walkthru today
Gardner says Mike believed in him, gave him his chance, and changed his life pic.twitter.com/CSyvSNZb6C
- Regardless of who is playing at quarterback, Dallas Goedert is a huge weapon and will be a big factor when he’s back on the field.
- Sirianni admitted that he and the coaches have to get Miles Sanders more called runs and get him involved earlier in game. He pointed out that the time of possession the first half against the Bears didn’t lend to too many opportunities, but the RB has been dynamic and should get more touches early.