Philadelphia Eagles News

Ella on the Scene: The 'Stache is ready

Gardner Minshew
Gardner Minshew

It's been a hectic week in South Philadelphia as Eagles fans have digested the news of Jalen Hurts' shoulder sprain. Gardner Minshew will officially get the start in Dallas, confirmed by Nick Sirianni on Thursday morning. There was fierce wintry weather in Philly, Jordan Davis was singing Christmas tunes around the locker room, and one of the greatest rivalries in sports is on the horizon. I'll take you inside the locker room and around the NovaCare Complex as the Birds prepare for a Christmas Eve showdown.

ON THE CUSP OF BREAKING RECORDS

Week 15 presents many opportunities both for individual players and the team as a whole to tie and break a variety of records.

Let's start with the offense: They're one touchdown shy of tying a franchise record for most touchdowns in a season. The record of 54 was set in 2014. Their 53 touchdowns so far currently rank as the most amongst all NFL teams this season.

The offense also broke a franchise record for most rushing touchdowns in a single season in Week 14 vs. the New York Giants. They were two touchdowns away from the record, which was set at 25, and the team rushed for four touchdowns – not only tying the record but surpassing it in the same afternoon. Entering Week 16, the Eagles' offense now has 30 rushing touchdowns, leading the NFL in this category.

All of these offensive rushing stats wouldn't be possible without the offensive line. Right tackle Lane Johnson set an NFL record for most consecutive pass plays without allowing a sack with 928.

"As a coach, you have to respect the heck out of that with the way he goes about his business and the way he leads and the way he fights and the way he plays," said Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen. "He's the best tackle in the league in my opinion."

A handful of defensive players are on the brink of record-breaking achievements this weekend as well. Linebacker Haason Reddick (12 sacks) is one sack away from beating the career-high 12.5 he had with Arizona in 2020, and defensive end Brandon Graham is just one sack shy of tying his career-high 9.5 sacks he accomplished in 2017.

The sack production has almost doubled from last season to this year. "It's always a priority of ours philosophically to affect the quarterback," Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon said this week. "You can do that a lot of different ways. We came out of last year knowing that we have to do a little bit better in this area, and it's not a winning stat to me, but you do want to affect the quarterback."

Well, affecting the quarterback is exactly what they've done, and the team is seven sacks shy of tying the team record of 62 that was set in 1989.

Linebacker T.J. Edwards has two records on the horizon: First, he's one tackle away from a career high. Last season, he finished with 125 tackles, and entering Week 16 in 2022, he sits at 124. From a team perspective, Edwards needs six tackles to tie Alex Singleton for most tackles by an Eagle since 1994. Singleton recorded 130 tackles in 2021.

Another player to watch on Saturday is wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who is 99 receiving yards away from achieving 1,000 yards for the first time in his NFL career. If he reaches the 1,000-yard mark, he and A.J. Brown would become the first 1,000+ yard receiving duo in franchise history.

THE 'STACHE IS READY

Tight end Dallas Goedert will make his return this week after missing five weeks with a shoulder injury. "Dallas and Dallas has a nice ring to it," the tight end said in the locker room.

As Goedert prepares for Minshew under center, he offered a reflection on last season: It was Week 13, the Eagles were on the road against the Jets, and Hurts was ruled out with an ankle injury.

Goedert was Minshew's go-to guy catching six passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 38-18 win over the Jets. The pair will hope to reignite the connection they had last year in New York.

Goedert got some early work with Minshew last week when his 21-day practice window opened and he took reps with the scout team. "I'll probably remind him a couple times what happened last year. Hopefully, he feels the same, and I can get the rock a little this week."

Left tackle Jordan Mailata also referenced Minshew's performance in the Meadowlands, noting the quarterback's strong presence on the sideline and "constant positivity." Mailata believes in Minshew so much that he was rocking a mustache on Thursday in his quarterback's honor.

"We're confident in the 'Stache," Mailata said, referring to Minshew. "Flashbacks from last year, he was amazing."

VEGAS IS CALLING

The 2022 Pro Bowl roster was announced this week. The Eagles lead the NFL with eight players named; an additional nine players were announced as alternates.

For Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, and Landon Dickerson, they are first-time Pro Bowl selections.

The entire Eagles' starting offensive line was named to either the roster or as an alternate. All three running backs representing the NFC are from the East: Sanders, Tony Pollard of the Cowboys, and Saquon Barkley of the Giants – Sanders and Barkley were once teammates at Penn State.

Three of the four wide receivers from the NFC also represent the East: A.J. Brown, Dallas' CeeDee Lamb, and Washington's Terry McLaurin. If the NFC East's combined record of 38-16-2 doesn't show how strong this division has been, or the fact that the entire division would right now make the playoffs, these Pro Bowl distinctions certainly do.

The Pro Bowl is set for the beginning of February, and Goedert said hopefully players don't have to worry about going to Las Vegas anyway – the media erupted in laughter.

HOPE FOR HOPEWORKS

This week, the Eagles and Comcast visited a local organization, Hopeworks' new Philadelphia location in Kensington.

Hopeworks' mission is to prepare young adults for the workforce by combining education, technology, and entrepreneurship. Hopeworks CEO Dan Rhoton reported that last year they placed over 100 young adults in living-wage jobs.

The Eagles, including safety Anthony Harris, presented Hopeworks with a $15,000 donation and helped prepare their new space for the grand opening.

"The Eagles and Comcast have come to Kensington. That's what shows our young adults their value," Rhoton said. "We didn't have to go to the stadium to see the Eagles, we didn't have to travel to the Comcast Tower in Downtown Philly – right here in Kensington, helping our young adults set up. That means a lot."

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