Heading into their Week 12 matchup with the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles were riding some serious momentum. They were winners in three of their last four and had just knocked off the always-dangerous New Orleans Saints.
Before they took the field in the Meadowlands, there was a significant amount of conversation about the Eagles being a legitimate playoff contender in the NFC. They were creeping closer to the newly implemented third Wild Card spot, while the Cowboys simultaneously opened the door back up in the NFC East. Another few wins, and the Eagles would be in a position to be a postseason team.
However, then Week 12 happened.
The Giants embarrassed the Eagles 13-7
In what turned out to be one of the ugliest NFL games thus far this season, the Eagles and Giants labored to a 13-7 finish. A whopping two touchdowns were scored between the two sides, and the Eagles turned the ball over four times.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, in particular, was the primary reason Philly’s offense couldn’t get going. He threw three interceptions and zero touchdowns, only mustering up a measly 129 passing yards. It was the worst game of his NFL career, putting an end to any immediate talk of him blossoming into the Eagles’ franchise quarterback of the future.
The Giants’ offense wasn’t much better, for what it’s worth. Daniel Jones only passed for 202 yards, and Saquon Barkley only rushed for 40 yards. They spent most of the afternoon punting the football, relying on their defense to continue forcing turnovers and getting stops.
It was an ugly game all around, really casting a light on how far away the Eagles still are at the moment. Playoff teams don’t score seven points against the Giants.
The Eagles are considering a change at QB
After the game, reports started to surface regarding an ankle injury Hurts suffered late. There are clips of him limping off the field. However, it’s unclear how serious it is.
The official designation is a “sore ankle.” The Eagles have yet to state whether he will start their upcoming Week 13 game against the New York Jets. However, they’ve started preparing backup Gardner Minshew to start should he need to.
On the outside looking in, this is a minor detail. Hurts is injured, and the Eagles don’t want to force him to play if he’s not up for it. However, upon a closer look, this move could signal a much more significant impact happening down the road.
Gardner Minshew could expose Hurts’ passing flaws
The Eagles have long had an interesting relationship with the backup quarterback position. Michael Vick entered the organization as a third-stringer fresh off a prison stint only to secure the full-time starting job one season later. Nick Foles, of course, won the team a Super Bowl subbing in for Carson Wentz. Most recently, the drafting of Jalen Hurts set off a chain reaction that resulted in former No. 2 overall pick Wentz landing in Indianapolis.
Fast forward to 2021, and a whole lot hasn’t changed. The Eagles’ offense is coming off their worst performance of the year, and Hurts is slightly banged up with a sore ankle. Now would be the perfect time to give Minshew a shot at the QB1 job. If he performs well (as Vick, Foles, and Hurts did in past years), who’s to say he won’t get another week or two under center?
This isn’t to say Hurts isn’t actually injured. However, this feels like the Eagles’ way of getting a closer look at Minshew without officially benching Hurts. They’ve had enough ugly quarterback controversies in recent years.
The Eagles have yet to name a starter against the Jets — it likely depends on who looks better between Hurts and Minshew at practice. However, the fact this conversation is even being had is certainly reason for pause. The Eagles’ perceived lack of faith in Hurts will only spark further rumors down the line (Russell Wilson, anyone?).
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.