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Eagles-Jets analysis: Gardner Minshew leads the Birds to victory with Jalen Hurts out

Minshew was magical, making the Eagles' win against the Jets an easy one as they got back into the playoff discussion.

Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew throws the football during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew throws the football during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Minshew Mania has officially arrived.

After quarterback Jalen Hurts was ruled out of Sunday’s game versus the New York Jets with a left ankle injury, Gardner Minshew was inserted as the starter.

The mustache-equipped quarterback tore up the Jets, leading the Eagles to an emphatic 33-18 victory that improved their record to 6-7.

QB breakdown

With Minshew under center, the offense was more consistent than usual.

Minshew completed 20-of-25 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. His 80% completion rate is higher than Hurts has had in any game this season.

The most telling stat that showed the Eagles were on a roll with Minshew: They scored on seven of eight drives.

“My rhythm is a testament to a lot of things,” Minshew said. “We were running the ball and protecting well. When you’re in there, you’re the quarterback. You don’t think of it as backup or anything else. You’re just the guy. I’m grateful for the opportunity today.”

First-year coach Nick Sirianni has insisted Hurts has done enough to retain his job as the starter when he returns from his ankle injury. But Minshew surely presents an interesting debate heading into the bye week.

Originally selected in the sixth round of the 2019 draft, Minshew posted a record of 7-13 as a starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 25 career games, including 21 starts, Minshew has thrown for 5,783 yards with 39 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Hurts, a team captain, has developed a reputation for his dynamic running ability. However, he has struggled at times as a pure passer. In last week’s 13-7 loss to the Giants, also in MetLife Stadium, Hurts threw a career-worst three interceptions. Throughout the week, he expressed a desire to start against the Jets, but Hurts still didn’t feel 100% before kickoff.

“He just wasn’t healthy enough to play,” Sirianni said of Hurts. “We thought he was getting better. But he wasn’t healthy enough to play. ...We weren’t going to have a big quarterback run game today no matter who it was going to be. In the pasting game, there’s going to be differences because it’s a different guy [throwing].”

With Minshew, the Eagles might display a more efficient passing offense and also have a shot at winning some late-season games, but the 25-year-old isn’t the long-term solution for the franchise.

During his postgame news conference, Sirianni reiterated Hurts is the starter when healthy.

The jury is still out whether Hurts, 23, is the answer, but at this point, a majority of the offense is tailored around his strengths as a dual-threat quarterback.

“He’s played really good football,” Sirianni said. “There’s times when he’s been one of the best in the league with the way he’s moved around and made plays.”

Goedert, Sanders set tone

Tight end Dallas Goedert is proving to be worth the large sum of money the Eagles committed to him last month. Goedert signed a four-year extension worth up to $59 million with $35.7 million guaranteed, tying him to the Eagles through 2025.

The Eagles prioritized Goedert in the passing game, effectively using him on screens, play action, and in the intermediate passing game. Goedert set a career high with 105 receiving yards on six catches, including two touchdowns.

“This was my first week really throwing to Dallas,” Minshew said. “But he’s pretty good, so I was pretty comfortable throwing it to him. Anytime you have a player like Dallas, I’m really happy to find him.”

A strong rushing attack allowed the Eagles to incorporate play action. The Jets played a guessing game all day as tailback Miles Sanders finished with a career-high 24 rushes for 120 yards.

“Sirianni trusted us running the ball,” Sanders said. “We didn’t run the ball for more than 200 yards these past four weeks for no reason. We’re going to stick to the plan and what’s working.”

Defense recovers from slow start

Jets rookie Zach Wilson entered Sunday as the league’s worst statistical quarterback with four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The Eagles have enjoyed success against inexperienced quarterbacks, so it was a surprise to see them struggle early against Wilson, who led the Jets to three straight touchdowns on their first three drives. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon made the adjustments, though, and that was all the scoring the home team would manage.

Marcus Epps picked off a pass from Wilson in the fourth quarter as the defense shut out the Jets in the second half.

Injury report

The bye week comes at an opportune time for the Eagles, who are banged up at multiple spots.

Sanders suffered a lower-body injury in the fourth quarter. After an explosive 34-yard rush, Sanders went down awkwardly in front of the visitors’ sideline. He immediately clutched his right ankle and was replaced by rookie Kenneth Gainwell.

“Everybody is dealing with stuff throughout the league,” Sanders said. “I’m trying to get back each and every week no matter what happens in the game. I’m not going to let anything set me back. We have a bye week, so I have an extra week to get right and ready for the next game.”

Center Jason Kelce later left the game and limped off to the locker room. After the game, Kelce was seen sporting a walking boot on his left foot.

Cornerback Steven Nelson sustained a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return. Before his injury, Nelson had allowed a touchdown to Jets receiver Elijah Moore. Nelson was replaced by rookie Zech McPhearson, who played on the opposite side of Darius Slay, while Avonte Maddox remained in the slot.

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox sustained a lower-body injury in the first quarter. He missed a couple of snaps before re-entering the game. Earlier in the week, Cox popped up on the injury report with a back issue. Fellow defensive tackle Milton Williams also was injured in the second half.

Linebacker Patrick Johnson suffered a back injury while playing on special teams. He walked to the locker room and did not return.


Following the bye, the Eagles have four remaining games against division opponents: Dec. 19 vs. Washington, Dec. 26 vs. Giants, Jan. 2 at Washington, Jan. 9 vs. Cowboys.