PHILADELPHIA – For two weeks, the debate will rage on sports talk radio, Twitter, and everywhere else Eagles football is discussed.
Jalen Hurts or Gardner Minshew?
It doesn’t matter that Nick Sirianni already made the call. Hurts is his starting quarterback.
“Yeah, of course,” said Sirianni when asked point-blank if Hurts will remain his starting quarterback.
Never mind that Minshew finished the first half of the Eagles’ 33-18 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He completed his first 11 throws and ended his day 20-for-25 with 242 yards, two touchdown throws to tight end Dallas Goedert, and a PR of 133.7.
And why is Sirianni so sure Hurts will remain the starter? Well, he was asked that very question.
“I think he’s played good football,” said the coach. “I think he’s played really good football. There have been times where’s he’s been one of the best in the league with the way he’s moved around and made plays. We look at that quarterback rating and what he’s had there. He’s played really good football when he’s in. When he’s healthy and he’s back, he’ll be our starter.”
That should be the end of it, because Sirianni is right.
Hurts has been good. Good enough to keep his job for the remainder of the season.
He was not benched. He was injured.
Sirianni did the same thing with Miles Sanders.
The running game took off in Sanders’ three games on Injured Reserve, but even before Sanders came off IR, Sirianni said that Sanders would return to a starting role when he was healthy and ready.
Also, let’s not forget that this was the New York Jets, who are now 3-9.
Let’s not forget that the book on Minshew is he’s good at the mid-range game, but once defense’s, better ones than New York’s, defend that better, Minshew will look awfully limited, unable to throw deep and unable to run.
Let’s not forget that Hurts directed a team that had scored 30-plus points five times this year, with the Eagles going 4-1 in those games.
Finally, let’s not forget wins and losses, a benchmark some like to judge quarterbacks on.
Hurts was 6-10.
Minshew is now 8-13.
Then there are the players themselves. They know that this is Hurts’ job.
“Ultimately, it’s not up to me,” said Goedert, who had never scored two TDs in one NFL game before, never had 105 yards receiving, either. “I think Jalen is going to spend the week here getting back, getting his ankle rehabbed.
“I think when it comes down to it, he’ll be our quarterback. Ultimately, I don’t know. I don’t make those decisions. But I think everybody rides without whoever the quarterback is going to be.”
Yes, the passing game was efficient with Minshew, but it’s been that way with Hurts more often than not, too.
That, though, is a credit to Sirianni and his staff, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen QB coach Brian Johnson, and passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo for knowing what Minshew does and playing to his strengths.
“In the run game, not a lot (had to be adjusted),” said Sirianni. “In the pass game, I think I talked to you on Friday about how there are going to be differences because it’s a different guy pulling the trigger. Obviously, there are going to be a little bit of differences. We put a plan together based off of what we think our guys can do and what our receivers can do and our tight ends and our running backs.
“Really, the ultimate way the play gets called is if the quarterback is comfortable with it because he’s the one with the ball in his hands every time. Obviously, you have a little bit of differences there based on the likes of the quarterback. That’s always going to be a little different for everybody.”
This was a game Hurts would have won, too.
It may have looked a little different, but it would have been a win.
Maybe in the offseason, it’s an open QB competition, with the best quarterback winning the job.
Right now, though, it’s nice to know the Eagles have a competent backup, but he’s not Nick Foles.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.