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Spadaro: Jalen Hurts 'feeling good' as Giant showdown approaches

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

A two-word answer, as in, do I have to answer this question again? Can we stop with this? When asked about his shoulder early on Tuesday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex, quarterback Jalen Hurts responded with two words.

"Feeling good."

And so now let's talk about the game. Giants at the Eagles. An NFC East rivalry that stands the test of time and that renews in the postseason on Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field. All eyes are on Hurts because he's The Franchise and he's the guy and the Eagles need him to play like Jalen Hurts to win this NFC Divisional Playoff Game and move on to the next round of the conference playoffs.

The expectation is that Hurts is going to play his game – he said as much on Tuesday – and that's an exciting prospect for the Eagles.

"He's the one who gets us going," tight end Dallas Goedert said. "He's made plays all season. I don't see that changing."

Said center Jason Kelce: "He makes us go."

Hurts doesn't want to talk about the shoulder injury that he suffered in Chicago on December 18 and forced him out of the lineup. That's very clear. He would rather talk football because this is an extremely exciting time for the Eagles and for Hurts and an offense that is glad to have its leader back whole and hungry and ready to ratchet up the attack against a Giants defense playing its best ball of the season right now.

This is not the same New York defense the Eagles opened the game against with three consecutive touchdowns in Week 14. This is a playoff defense, one that mixes the blitz and the coverages, that is going to show Hurts something a little different from one play to the next. The injury isn't going to be a factor in Hurts' mind. It's football and he's the quarterback and the Giants are going to target him as they target every quarterback.

"This is a really good team with a really good defense," Hurts said. "They do a lot of really good things. It's football. I've got a bounty on me every week I go out there on the field, so I'm going to go out there and play my game. Whatever happens, happens."

This is his second NFL season as a full-time starter and it's his second playoff appearance. Last year's was a struggle for the whole team in Tampa as the Eagles lost 31-15 and the offense didn't get untracked until it was too late on a windy day in Florida. Every bit of it was a learning experience. Every time he steps on the field, Hurts says all the time, is a learning experience.

That loss to the Bucs set forth an offseason of self-examination from Hurts and from the Eagles, really, and from there the wheels were in motion to improve on a daily basis. The roster improved. Hurts worked so hard to improve his game. And here the Eagles are, 14-3 and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

"There was a ton that I learned from and I took away from that going into the offseason," he said. "I think it's helpful for us to have experienced that together as a team and to have a lot of guys back. A lot of guys, like a Jason Kelce decides to stay because he sees something in what he's played with and the potential of what could be.

"We have everything in front of us and we're just taking it day by day, but there's a ton that we've endured and experienced and gone through to be here and have this opportunity we have now, so we're going to try to go out there and do what we've been doing, try and stay true to ourselves, stay true to our process and our grind and the hustle that we put in day in and day out and leave it all out there on the field and see what result comes."

This week is the same as every week in terms of the preparation, the mindset – "Get it done," said Hurts – and the purpose.

"It will be fun. We've got to go out there and compete, gotta go out there and execute and play with the right fundamentals," Hurts said.

Even keeled. Cool-hand Jalen. It's football and football is football and he's the quarterback.

"Jalen isn't going to change because he approaches every game the same way and that's the right way to do it," Kelce said. "You don't all of a sudden change what you've done to this point. That would be the exact wrong thing to do. Jalen is one of those guys who is laser-focused every week, who prepares to the best of his ability, and that's why he's the quarterback he is."

Just another week. Just another football game. We all know it's win and stay alive, so there really is a difference, but for a team that is growing and building and doing all the right things, it's the proper approach. At the end of the day – or night, as is the case on Saturday – it's going to be special.

"We all want the same thing," wide receiver A.J. Brown said. "We're working hard together to achieve that. It starts with Jalen. We know that and that's exciting for all of us."

Take a look at the all-time best moments from the 184 meetings between the Eagles and Giants as they get set to square off for the 2023 regular-season finale.

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