"It's an unknown right now."
Head Coach Nick Sirianni is a straight shooter, so when he says that on a Friday afternoon roughly 48 1/2 hours before the Eagles kick off their Week 13 game at the New York Jets, you understand that it's an honest assessment of the team's quarterback picture. Starter Jalen Hurts suffered a sprained ankle late in Sunday's game at the Giants and, while he finished the game and then on Wednesday proclaimed himself ready to go for the Jets, the Eagles' medical team is tapping the breaks here.
Jalen Hurts or Gardner Minshew? Sounds like we might have to wait, truly wait, until Sunday morning to know.
"A lot of parties at play there to make sure we do what's best for Jalen and his body and, obviously, the team," Sirianni said. "But player health is the first and foremost most important thing. So, there will be a lot of discussions with the trainers, the doctors, we got to listen to Jalen on how his body feels. So, those are really the main guys though, of who is making that decision and helping make that decision.
"I feel confident with either guy – either of the guys if they have to go play the way they prepared all week and went about their business."
The Eagles held a walkthrough practice on Wednesday and Hurts was able to get plenty of reps – Sirianni said he took more than half of the 125 reps the offense had – and then Hurts was limited in practice on both Thursday and Friday. The plan, and to this point it is mission accomplished, is to have both Hurts and Minshew ready for action against the Jets. The reps that Minshew has taken this week, then, have been extremely valuable, given that he's taken so few practice reps throughout the season with Hurts up and healthy each week.
It's unlikely the offense would change substantially with Minshew in the quarterback seat, because while he isn't the explosive playmaker that Hurts is in the running game, Minshew did rush for 344 yards in his rookie season, averaging 5.1 yards per pop. He's not going to be a statue, in other words, if Minshew gets the call.
Sirianni has handled everything thrown his way in his first year as a head coach, so what's a little uncertainty over the quarterback position? The Eagles are 5-7, having turned the season around after a tough start, and Sirianni deserves a ton of credit for keeping the team together, for adapting his game plan around the personnel, for overcoming some significant injuries, and for trusting his coaching staff as it develops young talent throughout the roster. A win on Sunday would send the Eagles into the bye week with some positive momentum and give them a chance to rest up before the final stretch run of four games against NFC East opponents.
And that's the critical message here: It's all about Sunday and doing everything possible to beat the Jets. Whoever the quarterback is doesn't change the message. Playing shorthanded in the offensive backfield – running back Jordan Howard is out with a knee injury and Boston Scott is questionable after missing all week with an illness – isn't even close to an excuse.
The Eagles have to be tuned in – all the way tuned in – to win on Sunday. That's the Sirianni Message.
"All you're thinking about is how you win this game. I don't – and that's kind of been my message, right, I'm not thinking about anything else but this game and how we win this game," Sirianni said. "I don't want the players to be thinking about what they're doing next week or what they're doing two weeks from now.
"But we always are talking about the player's health first. We want to make sure the guys are healthy and they're doing the right things. But we won't put a guy out there that's not ready to go. But the bye – having the bye has nothing to do with it. It's just about, 'What can we do to put our best product on the field to be able to beat the Jets?'"
The seconds are ticking away, the minutes are passing by quickly. Kickoff against the Jets is at 1 PM on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. With a hugely important question still to be answered, the Eagles prepare to put their best team on the field at New York, relying on a week of preparation, understanding that all scenarios must be covered, and a telling test for a first-year head coach confronted with the injury factor at the game's most important position.
Jalen Hurts or Gardner Minshew? Tick, tock ...