The Eagles offense looked as dysfunctional as it possibly could this past weekend and there’s a chance that those struggles will be here to stay if Jalen Hurts is unable to play this weekend due to an injury. However, we’ve seen this tale before and we ultimately know how it ends.
After picking up a minor ankle injury in the loss to the Giants, Jalen Hurts may have taken a backseat to Gardner Minshew as the team verge on the side of caution. They’re preparing Minshew to make his first start as an Eagle in the event Hurts can’t take the field, but in the event he does, there’s a pattern we could expect.
Admittedly, this is a new coaching staff with a totally fresh mindset and a much younger team, but over the past few years, Eagles fans have become accustomed to fairly regular quarterback changes and this circumstance doesn’t feel that out of place anymore.
Injury or not, Jalen Hurts has been struggling to find a rhythm. When there’s a change in quarterback, there’s often a change in offensive flow due to each player being unique. As far as Minshew and Hurts go, the two couldn’t be any more different.
Minshew isn’t exactly a polished passer and he can miss the easy throws. However, he delivers a beautiful deep ball and his arm is a cannon just waiting to fire. Whether it hits the target or not is another question entirely. Hurts struggles with deeper passes and accuracy, Minshew struggles with the placement on shorter passes but has no problem chucking it downfield and letting his receivers do the work…which isn’t exactly a bad thing.
With two different quarterbacks in the mix, the question now become ones of adaptation. We’ve learned in the past that if the QB changes, so does the gameplan. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen seemed insistent that it’ll be the same offense that Jalen Hurts has been running:
You know what, we’re going to run what we run, and I think we’ve got to continue to do that. We’ve been pretty efficient running the football, and obviously we’ve got to get our pass game to where we want it to be, and that’s the bottom line.
But something tells me that Minshew’s average athleticism isn’t going to cause anywhere near the same level of threat that the skillset of Hurts does.
Hurts tags in for a struggling Carson Wentz
Eagles fans were subjected to this as recently as last year. Carson Wentz was benched in the game against Green Bay for rookie QB Jalen Hurts after his year-long struggles showed no sign of disappearing. What happened next acted as the catalyst for the proceeding blow-up.
Hurts exploded onto the scene as a quarterback who could make things happen with his legs. As a result, Doug Pederson sprinkled in plenty of play-action looks, RPO’s, and shifted the pocket to get Hurts into space. This was infuriating as it’s all fans wanted to see with Wentz in the first place.
Eventually, Wentz was traded to the Colts and Hurts became the guy.
The legend of Nick Foles
That wasn’t the only time that Carson Wentz was replaced. Although not due to form, Nick Foles stepped in for Wentz after the NDSU product tore his ACL. The offense was immediately simplified and the rest, as we know, was history. Foles led the Eagles to their first Lombardi trophy and helped nurse a playoff run one year later where he caught fire once again in a similar circumstance.
Will history repeat itself?
It’s too soon to say. We don’t yet know if Jalen Hurts is going to be sidelined. The really big factor here is going to be run-pass ratio and rushing production. The Eagles have become the league’s most dominant rushing team over the past month and currently lead the league in total yardage and sit second to only the Colts in yards per attempt.
A lot of their rushing production comes from the teams’ rushing leader, Jalen Hurts. It would be tough to expect Gardner Minshew to be just as effective as such a lethal dual-threat QB, but the real question to ask now is whether or not the Eagles made the shift to pull the focus away from the weaknesses of Jalen Hurts. If Minshew were to step in and prove to be far more effective through the air, helping to establish a more balanced offense, then it may only work against Hurts in the long run as the front office may look to find a quarterback who can move the ball consistently down the field with his arm.
With a Bye week on the horizon, a strong outing from Minshew may push Sirianni to see what he has with a full week of rest to really expand the playbook, especially if the injury to Hurts is a little more significant than first anticipated.
It’s fantastic that the Eagles have a temporary solution to a what may turn out to be a permanent problem in running the ball to negate the weaknesses of Hurts. But if Minshew can act as another temporary solution, the pattern of backups coming in towards the end of the season and changing the course of the franchise may only continue.
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