The Eagles were never really going to challenge the Cowboys on Saturday night given the circumstances.
With a number of starters out because of COVID-19 or just getting rest, Philadelphia simply could not keep up with Dak Prescott, who threw for five touchdowns, and the Cowboys, who romped to a 51-26 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
Amongst the notable absentees for the Eagles was quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was given Saturday night off despite admitting that he was planning to play throughout the week. However, it turned out that the 23-year-old is still not 100% after spraining his ankle during a Week 12 loss to the New York Giants.
Regardless, Hurts steadily improved after getting the following two weeks off — an Eagles walk over the Jets and a bye week. Since Week 15, he has completed 66.7% of his passes for 709 yards and five total touchdowns despite his run-game being limited.
“As far as with Jalen, we thought a lot about [playing him],” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “He has done a really good job these last three games playing within the pocket, and we have done a little bit less with running with him and everything like that. We just thought this was an opportunity to get him back to 100%.”
The Eagles will need as close to a 100% version of Hurts as possible as he will start a road playoff game that they will be underdogs in next weekend.
Behind him on the depth chart remains Gardner Minshew, who had a strong showing in Week 13 against the Jets before starting Saturday night’s loss against the Cowboys. The third-year pro completed 19-of-33 passes for 186 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception against Dallas in what he might have thought was another opportunity to wrestle the starting job away from Hurts.
Following his performance against the Jets in which he completed 80% of his passes for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Minshew approached Sirianni asking what it would take for him to take over starting duties.
“Yes, that was pretty much it verbatim,” Minshew admitted. “One thing this coaching staff is big on is transparency and knowing where you stand, so I was going in there, and I am a competitive guy. We are all competitive guys that want to play.
“I was asking what it took and he said we are solid right now. I respect that and I am going to do everything I can to put myself in that position at some point.”
While there was speculation that Minshew made a serious challenge for the starting job after the Jets game, that title still belongs to Hurts.
“I will say about Gardner, he is a competitor,” Sirianni said. “He is locked in, whether he’s the backup, whether he’s playing. The guy is going to prepare like crazy, no matter what the situation, and he’s competitive.
“Of course, every backup that we have on this team, if they didn’t want to be the starter, I would have an issue with them being the backup.”