The decision to promote Gardner Minshew to backup quarterback was the right move. The Philadelphia Eagles probably should have done it the minute they traded for him. Now the conversation turns to how much Jalen Hurts might be looking over his shoulder.
Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was asked to comment on Minshew’s rise up the depth chart. The former Jacksonville Jaguars starter had been running the scout team, so Minshew’s been heavily involved with gameday preparations. The 25-year-old has been a healthy scratch for the first seven weeks, although he’s supplied tiny shots of energy whether it be in the meeting rooms or out on the practice field. Steichen expressed confidence in a quarterback with 20 NFL starts under his belt.
“He’s played a lot of football in this league and had success when he was in Jacksonville,” Steichen told reporters. “He prepares like a pro in those meetings. He’s in the meetings every day getting ready like he is up. So excited about Gardner being the backup.”
There is also familiarity with the mustachioed cult favorite. Steichen spent time getting to know Minshew during the pre-draft process back in 2019. Their interactions were brief, but the then-Chargers assistant walked away impressed by Minshew’s football intelligence.
“I had a little bit of interaction with him at the combine, really smart, intelligent, when we interviewed him,” Steichen said. “His football IQ is really good. Obviously, he’s able to create plays and make plays out of the pocket and obviously in the pocket as well. So good player.”
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Evaluating Jalen Hurts Through Seven Games
The Eagles’ 2-5 record isn’t a complete indictment of Hurts. Sure, there are a ton of plays the second-year quarterback wants back. That fumble at the goal line against the Raiders was a particularly bad one. However, Hurts has supplied plenty of highlight-reel moments to start the season. The coaching staff isn’t ready to pull the plug on a guy vying to be the face of the franchise.
“Jalen is an explosive player, as we know,” Steichen said. “He creates big plays out of the pocket on the scrambles, and he’s continued to create big plays with his feet in the run game. Obviously, he is rushing the ball really well right now. We’re really excited about Jalen.”
Hurts has wowed with his legs and ranks second behind Lamar Jackson in rushing yards (361) for a quarterback. And his 1,716 passing yards is 16th-best in the league. Where he’s really struggled is with accuracy – an area of concern heading into camp – after turning in three straight games with a completion percentage lower than 60%, including a career-low 46.2% in Week 7. Hurts is at 61.2% for the year.
“Obviously, we want to complete more passes,” Steichen said. “That’s our job as coaches to put him in those situations to give him easy completions. So, we’re looking at that this week to get that up.”
Running Back By Committee
The Eagles have no desire to sign a free-agent running back with Miles Sanders likely out for Week 8. Those carries will be doled out between Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell, with Jordan Howard possibly mixing in. The one-time Pro Bowler has been stashed on the team’s practice squad and hasn’t been promoted yet this year.
Steichen and head coach Nick Sirianni both hinted that Howard would probably be called up. He has 126 rushes for 552 yards and six touchdowns in parts of two seasons in midnight green. Look for Howard, Scott, Gainwell all to have roles.
“We’re looking through that, obviously with Miles being down,” Steichen said when asked if the Eagles would use a committee approach. “Kenny is a good player. Boston’s played a lot of football in this league, and so has Jordan. We’ll look through that this week.”